WSJ: The state Public Service Commission turned down a proposal on Thursday to include executive bonuses in determining if a Wisconsin utility company's profits are too high.
If fuel costs run a lot higher than a utility anticipated, it can ask the PSC to order consumers to pick up part of the tab, through a temporary surcharge. But if the utility is already earning more profits than the PSC authorized, it cannot collect as much for the fuel price disparity.
The Citizens Utility Board, Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, Wisconsin Paper Council and Wausau Paper had asked regulators not to let utilities count executive bonuses against their profits. The three-member PSC did not go along, but commissioner Lauren Azar made it clear that she disagrees.
In a letter to state lawmakers in August, Azar said the five top executives of four Wisconsin utilities received more than $44 million in bonuses in 2009.
"These bonuses were given in hard economic times when some Wisconsin citizens are setting their thermostats at 55 degrees because they cannot pay their utility bills," Azar wrote.