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On Wednesday, March 15, AT&T Wisconsin filed its own petition with the Public Service Commission, asking the PSC to issue a declaratory ruling that the City of Milwaukee must pay any costs associated with relocating and reinforcing utility lines in order to accommodate its Milwaukee Streetcar project. Early estimates have placed such costs in excess of $55 million. The city is seeking to pass these costs on to the affected utilities, who will then need to pass those costs on to their customers throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
AT&T’s move was necessitated by the PSC’s March 2nd order limiting the scope of the petition brought by WILL on behalf of Brett Healy, President of the Wisconsin-based John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy , to WE Energies and American Transmission Company. According to the PSC, it lacks the authority to issue a ruling applicable to AT&T and other “alternative telecommunication utiliies” under the statute utilized by Mr. Healy to bring the petition. AT&T’s petition utilizes another avenue to bring the issue of its relocation costs in front of the PSC.
AT&T also requested that its petition be consolidated together with Mr. Healy’s, since both address the same issues. The PSC had previously indicated it would be willing to take that step in the interests of efficiency.
“This move is purely procedural,” explained WILL Associate Counsel Tom Kamenick, “it shouldn’t have any affect on the ultimate outcome. It just goes to show how serious this issue is and how important it is for all the major players here – ratepayers, utilities, and the city – to know ahead of time who will have to pay this additional cost.”
Coverage in the Business Journal is available here.