Water Tariffs

Overview

Tariffs are formal filings that utilities make with the Commission, tariffs cover everything from the rates a customer pays for water service each month to what qualifications a customer must meet in order to take service under a given rate offering.  Tariffs have the force and effect of contracts.  As contracts, tariffs can be viewed as setting out the legal obligations of both parties – the customer's and the utility's.  Tariffs are subject to review by the PSC, and in some instances, the courts.

A utility must file its tariff with the PSC.  Tariffs on file with the PSC are available to the public for inspection on the PSC web site.  Once in effect, a utility must charge a customer the tariffed rate.  Per Wis. Stat. § 196.60, a utility cannot discriminate in the rates it charges customers.  Tariff revision requires a hearing if the new tariff would diminish the level of service received by a customer under an existing tariff or have the effect of increasing charges to a customer for an existing service.  A hearing is not required if the effect of the tariff would be to reduce rates, or if the utility is offering a new, optional tariffed service.  However, the revised tariff would still be subject to PSC staff review.

What is the current list of water tariffs and what is their standard language?

​How should the Utility apply the service charge for bulk water use?

The manner in which a water utility applies the service charge in Schedule BW-1 (i.e. per month, per day, per project, per tank load, etc.) is at the discretion of the utility.  However, once the utility determines the manner for doing so, it must be consistent in applying the charge.  Commission staff recommends that the utility include this policy in its policy manual or service rules.

What charges can the utility apply to properties, vacant or including building, which are not receiving water service?

Provided they are included in the utility's current tariffs, two rates could apply:

  • Standby water service
    Schedule Sws-1, Standby Water Service, allows the utility to apply a charge to each lot or equivalent parcel of land if water system facilities are available but the property is not connected, meaning that it is fronted by a water main.  This rate is not applicable to land declared by the local municipality to be unbuildable.  If the utility has Schedule Sws-1 in its authorized rates, each lot would be subject to the standby charge.  Standby charges are not common.
  • Direct public fire protection charges:  Direct charges for public fire protection are applied to any customer receiving water service under the following tariff schedules: Mg-1, General Service – Metered; Ug-1, General Water Service – Unmetered; or Sg-1, Seasonal Service. Beginning in 2011, the Commission is eliminating Fd-1 and combining this tariff with F-1.  While the Commission is in the process of phasing these tariffs out, some communities will still have them in their tariffs if they have not recently applied for a rate adjustment.  Direct public fire protection charges also apply to customers receiving service under Mgt-1 or Mz-1.  While the Commission is in the process of phasing these tariffs out, they may still be in the tariffs for communities that have not applied recently to the Commission for a rate adjustment.  Under Wisconsin Statute § 196.03(3)(b)(2), a utility may request that direct public fire protection charges also apply to any person who is not a general service customer of the utility but owns land located in the city, village, or town and in an area in which the municipal utility has an obligation to provide water for public fire protection.  Such parcels shall be billed at the ⅝-inch meter rate.  This rate is not applicable to land declared by the local municipality as unbuildable.  If the utility chooses to charge non-general service customers, Schedule F-1 will be amended to include such language.