CWPB attorneys Curt Pawlisch and Jeff Vercauteren secured a major victory for Wisconsin utility customers in a decision issued by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin on April 23. In the decision, the Commission concluded that the City of Milwaukee cannot require utilities and their customers to pay the costs for relocating underground utility facilities to accommodate the proposed Milwaukee Streetcar Project.
Representing two telecommunications providers, CWPB along with other attorneys representing electric, gas, steam, and telecommunications utilities and customers filed petitions with the Commission after the City announced its intent to require utilities and their customers to pay as much as $65 million in relocation costs related to the project. The Commission concluded that the City is barred under state law from passing those costs on to utilities and their customers.
The 2.1-mile streetcar project would be located in downtown Milwaukee and require the relocation of utility facilities that in many cases have occupied the right-of-way under city streets for decades. Utilities had no objection to the project itself, but opposed shifting to their customers the costs of relocating utility facilities as a result of the project. The Commission's decision makes clear that the City will need to pay the cost to relocate those facilities if the streetcar project moves forward.