The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin calculates benchmark data for over 575 water utilities and sanitary districts. These benchmarks are derived from data included in the utilities' annual reports. The purpose of providing these benchmarks is to establish a maximum, minimum and weighted average for expense, revenue and pumping statistics. This will allow utilities to compare their numbers to statewide statistics. In addition to statewide benchmarks, the PSC provides benchmarks by utility class so that utilities can compare their statistics with those from utilities of similar size. PSC reporting groups water utilities and sanitary districts into class AB, C or D categories. These categories are defined by the number of customers served. Class AB utilities have 4,000 or more customers, Class C utilities have between 1,000 and 4,000 customers, and Class D utilities have fewer than 1,000 customers.
Items of Note:
• Benchmark reports can be exported to Microsoft Excel.
• Most annual reports are filed in March and April. During this timeframe, the benchmark reports will fluctuate daily as new reports are added to the database.
• These benchmarks may contain errors for individual companies, as utility annual report data is self-reported. While these errors leave averages realtively unaffected, they can distort greatly minimum and maximum values.
Statewide Benchmark: These benchmarks are grouped by utility class and water source (surface water, groundwater, or purchased water).
Individual Water Utility Benchmarks: The individual utility benchmarks appear in the far right-hand column of the report.
Revenues – Metered revenues in Account 461, Metered Sales to General Customers, and Account 464, Other Sales to Public Authorities, were used. The two benchmarks are revenues per customer and revenues per thousand gallons of water sold, reported by customer class. In addition, total operating revenues per full-time equivalent employee is reported in this category.
Expenses – For Class AB and C utilities, operation and maintenance expenses are segregated by functional group, as well as water source: self-supplied ground or surface water(Lake Winnebago utilities are reported separately), or purchased water. Benchmarks for Account 408, Taxes, are computed separately for water utilities and sanitary districts, because sanitary districts do not pay the local and school property tax equivalent. The four benchmarks are expenses relative to average plant investment, total operating revenues, gallons of water sold, and number of customers. The number of customers excludes public fire protection service to eliminate problems with duplication when this service is billed directly to customers. One additional expense benchmark is total operating expenses per full-time equivalent employee.
Mass Property Plant Accounts – For mains, services, meters and hydrants, the average cost for both plant additions and plant retirements is computed. Dollar amounts are taken from the Water Utility Plant in Service schedules for utility-financed and contributed plant, and units added and retired are taken from the related statistical schedules. The number of hydrants includes flushing hydrants.
Pumping Statistics – Benchmarks are computed for kilowatt hours of electricity used to operate pumps and for the percent of water loss that is unaccounted for.
Financial Ratios – Two benchmarks are computed, the first being the ratio of long-term debt compared to total capital structure at the end of the year. Total capital structure includes long term debt plus municipal earning equity. For utilities with no long-term debt or with negative municipal equity, the debt to equity ratio is not computed. The other statistic is rate of return on average net investment rate base.