March 2, 2011- Can the State of Wisconsin sell off its public utilities to its corporate donors for pennies on the dollar without any oversight by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission?
If new Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has his way and Senate Bill 11 is passed in its entirety, two of Walker’s largest donors, oil billionaires David and Charles Koch (“the Koch Brothers”), could be handed free reign on Wisconsin public utilities. The media has focused on the protests surrounding stripping bargaining rights from most state workers, but handing over Wisconsin’s utilities to one of our nation’s largest polluters could also have a major impact.
Based on a legal loophole in the middle of Wisconsin Senate Bill 11, according to Forbes, the State of Wisconsin can sell or contract out management of state-owned heating, cooling and power plants without seeking bids.
If this law passes, the state can sell off utilities without any bidding or review process, all for “the public good.” The Wisconsin Public Service Commission serves utility customers to insure adequate and reasonably priced service is provided. Utilities cannot change rates or build large power plants or major transmission lines without the approval of the PSC.
Passage of WI Senate Bill 11, however, would keep the PSC on the sidelines for sale of these public utilities. Conspiracy theorists are calling “pay for play” over fear that the Koch Brothers’ donations to help elect Walker back in November will yield them a portfolio of Wisconsin utilities on the cheap.