OCTOBER 21, 2020
0.5 CEUs available
Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right. Yet faced with the need to replace and refurbish aging infrastructure and respond to emerging water quality issues, utilities may struggle to implement rates that provide sufficient funds and are affordable for customers. This program will examine what the term “water affordability” means, discuss options for addressing affordability concerns, and conclude with a discussion on opportunities for a potential path forward.
9:00-9:15 Welcome and Opening Remarks
Rebecca Cameron Valcq, Chairperson, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
9:15 – 10:15 How Do We Define and Measure Water Affordability? – Taking a look at the big picture, how should we define water affordability? Is water is priced too cheaply? Is it too expensive? Is affordability influencing investment in infrastructure? What is an alternative to the traditional cost of service model in a rate case? Learn about some methods for evaluating affordability and how utilities might benefit from applying those methods.
Lawrie Kobza, Attorney, Boardman & Clark LLP
10:15 – 10:30 Break
10:30 – 11:00 What Are We Currently Doing, and Where Are the Gaps? Hear from Wisconsin state agency representatives who will talk about how water affordability is currently integrated into their programs, and what they think could be done to improve.
Kristy Nieto, Administrator, Division of Digital Access, Consumer and Environmental Affairs, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
Jim Ritchie, Director, Bureau of Community Financial Assistance, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Denise Schmidt, Administrator, Division of Water Utility Regulation and Analysis, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
11:00 – 11:45 Water Equity Considerations – What does it mean to provide equitable access to water? How does a water utility deal with customers’ distrust of its service? How are utilities addressing water equity issues?
Gina Wammock, Senior Fellow, US Water Alliance; President, Lakeview Strategic Services LLC
11:45 – 12:15 Lunch Break
12:15 – 12:45 Connecting Water Conservation and Efficiency to Affordability – Hear about a study that used affordability metrics and other data to assess affordability of service and evaluate the potential for addressing issues using water conservation and efficiency.
Bill Christiansen, Director of Programs, Alliance for Water Efficiency
12:45 – 1:00 Break
1:00 – 2:00 A Path Forward for Wisconsin: What Can We Learn from Other Programs? – Learn about some innovative water utility affordability programs from other states. Hear from representatives of energy efficiency and customer assistance programs. What lessons can we learn from these programs? Could/should efficiency and assistance programs be adapted to extend to water services?
Eric Callisto, Partner, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Thomas Content, Executive Director, Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin
Laura Goldberg, Midwest Regional Director, Energy Efficiency for All, Natural Resources Defense Council
Corey Lott, Senior Economist, Christensen Associates Energy Consulting
Erinn Monroe Nye, Director, Focus on Energy, APTIM
Eric Rothstein, Principal, Galardi Rothstein Group, LLC