(Note: The Wisconsin Statutes and the Wisconsin Administrative Code are maintained by the Wisconsin Revisor of Statutes Bureau in Folio and PDF Formats.)
Certification of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN)
An electric generation project of 100 megawatts (MW) or greater and mmany power lines over 100 kilovolts (kV) require a CPCN from the Commission. Wis. Stats. § 196.491 describes the procedures related to the issuance of a CPCN. The general application requirements for the CPCN are described in Wis. Admin. Code ch. PSC 111. (see note)
At least 60 days before filing a CPCN application, the developer must provide an engineering plan to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR review of this plan is coordinated by the Bureau of Integrated Science Services.
CPCN Information Requirements
The Commission has thirty days after a CPCN application is submitted to determine if it is complete ( Wis. Stat. § 196.491(3)(a)2.). After the application is determined to be complete, the Commission has 180 days to take final action on the proposal or it may obtain an extension of up to 180 days from the circuit court (Wis. Stat. § 196.491(3)(g)1). If it fails to do either of these, the project is automatically approved as proposed.
Commission staff has established a set of information requirements that can be used to prepare a CPCN application for electric generation or transmission projects. The Commission’s power plant certification considers the generating plant, any new electric transmission, natural gas pipeline, or other auxiliary facilities necessary to the operation of the plant. Three "Information Requirements" documents (available in pdf format below), aid Commission staff in its completeness review of the project application. The three documents list the information requirements for the power plant, the associated electric transmission line, and the associated natural gas pipeline respectively. All three lists must be fulfilled in the application. Consultation with staff is important to make any adjustments. Among other things, the document includes references to (1) the Commission Noise Protocol and (2) a series of example data tables that should be used as models for the transmission line portion of the application. These documents are also available below in pdf format.
NOTE: The generation project application requirements are meant to be used as the basis for preparing an application for a new generating facility. There may be additional information that will be required by Commission staff (or DNR staff in cases where a joint environmental review document is prepared) or there may be items that are not applicable to your proposed project. It is critical that prospective developers schedule a joint meeting with staff of both agencies prior to filing a CPCN application with the Commission.
The potential noise impacts associated with the operation of generating plants are often a primary concern for citizens living near potential sites. For noise impacts in particular, the Commission has created a protocol to establish consistent and appropriate information and follow-up procedures.
Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act
The Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (WEPA), applies the goals of the National Environmental Policy Act to Wisconsin state agency actions. The CPCN for an electric generating plant project will generally be considered a Type I or Type II action, depending on the plant fuel and whether the site is an existing generating site or a new site. Type I actions automatically require the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). Type II actions require the preparation of an environmental assessment (EA) to determine if an EIS is needed. The application of WEPA to Commission actions, including the "type list," can be found in Wis. Admin.Code ch. PSC 4.
The CPCN requirements and WEPA laws require consideration of alternative electric generating plant sites and transmission routes. The Commission may approve a CPCN application only after it makes a series of determinations. One of those determinations is that the design and location of the plant or transmission route be in the public interest considering alternative locations or routes. ( Wis. Stat. § 196.491(3)(d)3.) WEPA requires an evaluation of the reasonable alternatives to the proposed action, including those alternatives that could avoid some or all of the proposed action’s adverse environmental effects and the "no-action" alternative. ( Wis. Admin. Code §§ PSC 4.30(3)(c) and 4.20(2)(e)).
Public Information Meetings
There is no statutory or code requirement to hold public information meetings before applying for a CPCN. However, under PSC 4.30(2), the Commission must do appropriate "scoping" to learn the breadth or "scope" of concern about the proposed project. To determine the scope of the project at the local level, mailings and public meetings are most useful. Developers are advised to host at least one meeting near each alternative site and before submitting a CPCN application. Public information meetings often benefit the developer in two ways: (1) they help the developer get information to the potentially affected local public and (2) they help the developer obtain local knowledge that can improve the CPCN applications. Commission and DNR staff attend these meetings to answer questions about their respective agency’s review process and to learn about concerns and issues that might need to be included in the project reveiw and EIS..
The Commission also provides an array of public information brochures, overview pamphlets, and related links on various aspects of electric facility construction and Commission review processes. These are listed and retrievable under "Construction and Environmental Information."
Related State and Federal Agency Links:
Additional state and federal permits may be required, prior to the start of construction. The following page contains links to some state and federal agencies.
For More Information about the CPCN and CA processes: