Water Construction

Applying for Water Construction Authorization​

Utilities must submit an application to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (Commission) in order to receive a Certificate of Authority for many water construction-related projects. 

To request Commission authorization of a project, please take the following steps:

  1. ​​Determine if the project requires Commission authorization​
  2. ​Complete the PSC Water Construction Application
    • PSC Water Construction Application
    • ​Provide detailed responses to questions included in the Application. The Water Construction Application includes instructions and supplemental questions for specific project types.
  3. ​​​​File the Application and supporting documentation
  4. ​​Subscribe to your Docket.
    • In order to receive notification of official correspondence (data requests, notices, final decisions, etc.), individuals must subscribe to the PSC Docket. For help subscribing, go to Subscribing to Dockets.

Construction Authorization Process​​​ FAQs​

​What account n​umbers should be used to create the cost estimate?
​​​ PSC Uniform System of Account for Municipally Owned Water Utilities
  • ​​Typical Ground Water Systems
    (click image to enlarge)
Diagram of Ground Water Plant​​
Illustration of the most common components of a municipal ground water system (including: source of supply, treatment, storage, transmission, distributi​on and metering) and the corresponding plant accounts as defined in the PSC Uniform System of Account for Municipally Owned Water Utilities.​​

  • Typical Surface Water System​
    (click image to enlarge​)
Diagram of Surface Water Plant​​
Illustration of the most common components of a surface ​water system (including: source of supply, treatment, storage, transmission, distribution and metering) and the corresponding plant accounts as defined in the PSC Uniform System of Account for Municipally Owned Water Utilities.​​
​When is a Certificate of
A​uthority (C​​A) from the Commission required
Wisconsin Stat. § 196.49 describes when a CA is required. Wisconsin Admin Code ch. PSC 184.03 provides additional detail about the types of utility actions that require a CA from the Commission:
  • New Utility
  • Expansion, Acquisition, and Interconnection
  • Construction of Facilities: A utility shall obtain a certificate from the commission before constructing, purchasing, installing, modifying, replacing, or placing in operation any plant not exempt under 184.03(4)​ if the project cost exceeds the cost threshold specified in 196.49 (5g) ​(ar), Stats., as revised under Wis. Admin Code ch. PSC 184.03(3)(b)​.
​​​What is the current
const​ruction threshold?​

Wisconsin Stat. § 196.49(5g) ​​requires the Commission, on May 1 of each even-numbered year, to adjust the estimated gross project cost thresholds for construction projects requiring Commission review and approval.

Effective May 1, 2022, the public utility construction cost threshold for water public utilities or a combined water and sewer public utility is $470,000, or 25% of the utility’s operating revenues in the prior year, whichever is less (not including exempt projects).

Commission correspondence to all utilities can be found in Docket 5-GF-154.​

What types of projects are exempt from Comm​i​ss​ion approval?​
Wisconsin Admin Code ch. PSC 184.03 identifies utility actions that do not require a Certificate of Authority.
What is the timing involved in Commission review?​

Wisconsin Stat. § 196.49(5r)​ ​​provides specific deadlines for Commission review of water construction projects. The Commission will determine if an application is complete within 45 days of the application filing date. The Commission will issue a final decision within 90 days of determining an application is complete if a hearing is not required, and within 180 days if a hearing is required.

​​How is the PSC review process coordinated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources review?

​Commission staff strongly encourage utilities to request a pre-application web conference with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and PSC staff during the early planning phases of a project. Pre-application conferences are particularly useful when constructing new water sources, planning the establishment of a new utility, expanding a utility’s service area, acquiring another utility, establishing an interconnection with another utility, or constructing water mains 8-inches or greater in diameter and 3 miles or more in length.​​ ​

​How does the PSC communicate with utilities, consultants and interested parties/individuals?

All official correspondence related to water utility dockets is sent via email notifications from the ERF system. Correspondence includes all documents uploaded to ERF as part of a specific docket (i.e. data requests, memos, exhibits, testimony, notices, orders, etc.).

Any utility staff, consultants, and other parties interested in receiving these notifications must subscribe to the specific docket for the utility’s specific water construction application. You will be able to subscribe for docket email notifications once PSC assigns a docket number.

To subscribe, Go to ERF​, and click on ERF – EZ Subscriptions. Enter the docket ​(case) number, your e-mail address, and click the Send Code Now link. Within seconds, you will receive an email with a five digit code. Enter the code in the One-Time Code box, and click the Subscribe Now button. You can unsubscribe any time by clicking the link in the e-mail notification. For help subscribing, please go to: Subscribing to Dockets

How is the estimated rate​ impact calculated?

Applicants may use the following equation to estimate the percent increase in water rates due to the construction of the proposed project:​​ A diagram showing the equation that estimates the percent increase in water rates due to a proposed construction project


UP = Utility financed project costs in dollars (loans or funds)
CP = Contributed financed project costs in dollars (grants and principal forgiveness)

Annual Sales of Water = the utility’s annual “total sales of water” in dollars from page W-1 of the utility’s most current annual report

​How are application and
revi​​ew fees​ determined?

PSC staff review time will be billed as a direct assessment to the utility per ​Wis. Stat. §196.85.

For more on rate-setting see: Conventional Rate Case Overview