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Electric Industry Overview

The Gas and Energy Division is responsible for all major aspects of the PSC’s regulation of electric utilities. This includes oversight of:

picture of electrical outlet

  • Rates
  • Construction of large power lines or generation plants, considering
    • Need
    • Alternatives
    • Costs
    • Environmental impacts
  • Utility finance, structure and mergers
  • Small business impacts
  • Energy use and conservation
  • Farm stray voltage concerns

The division’s professional staff includes: auditors/accountants, environmental analysts, engineers, rate analysts, economists, finance specialists.

Electric Industry Structure

The electric industry is made up of three distinct areas:


The electricity used in your home or place of business can come from many sources. The generating plant picture of electric meters may be owned and operated by your local utility and located in or near your community. Or the power can be bought from another producer who may be located nearby, within your area of the state or in another state entirely. These generation owners could be another regulated utility or an Independent Power Producer (IPP). An IPP is an unregulated entity that produces electricity and sells it under contract or on the open market.

Coal, natural gas, nuclear power and hydro (water) are typical fuel sources of electricity in Wisconsin. Wisconsin utilities are also buying increasing amounts of electricity generated using wind and other renewable resources.

The PSC has statutory jurisdiction over the construction of generation plants of 100 MW or larger.


Your local utility is a distribution utility. It is responsible for ensuring that electricity is provided (distributed) to your home or your place of work. Depending on where you are, it can be

  • a municipal utility, owned by your city or village
  • an investor utility, owned by shareholders
  • a co-operative, where the customers are also member-owners

The utility builds, owns, operates and maintains the distribution facilities (e.g., wires, poles, transformers, sub-stations) for moving electricity within a given area.


The transmission system moves large amounts of power on a regional basis, both within Wisconsin and the Midwest. picture of a transmission line This is done using high-voltage transmission lines. The transmission system also moves power over more limited areas within the state, which is done primarily using lower-voltage lines. The ability to import power from, or export power to other areas of the state and neighboring regions is an important function in providing safe and reliable electric service.

The electric transmission system in Wisconsin is owned, built and operated by primarily three utilities:

  • American Transmission Company (ATC)
  • Xcel Energy
  • Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC)

ATC is responsible for the transmission facilities in eastern Wisconsin. Xcel Energy and DPC are responsible for the facilities in western Wisconsin.