Legislation Introduced to Allow Purchase of Water & Sewer Utilities

Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) and Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) have introduced Assembly Bill 554/Senate Bill 432, which creates a process for out-of-state utility companies to purchase or lease water or sewer utilities in Wisconsin.

Under current law, if a municipality seeks to sell or lease any utility, the municipality must first pass a resolution that is submitted to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for review. The PSC sets the price and terms for the transaction. This information is included in the notice for a referendum that is held for a vote in the municipality.

Under the bill, for transactions where the investor-owned utility is the purchaser, a referendum would only occur if a petition successfully meets signature thresholds and is submitted in 30 days.

The Committee on Energy and Utilities held a hearing on the bill on September 8 and the bill is scheduled to be voted on in committee next week. The Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Public Works, and Military Affairs has not scheduled a hearing yet.