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PSC: City of Milwaukee Must Pay to Move Utility Lines for Streetcar

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission ruled Wednesday that WE Energies does not have to cover the cost of relocating downtown power lines.

The lines must be relocated, to make way for the streetcar system the city intends to build. The rail would run from the lower east side, through the Third Ward and to the Intermodal Station.

Generally, with public improvement projects, the utility covers the cost of moving power lines, but state leaders recently passed a law, striking streetcar projects from the list of those that must be accommodated.

Mayor Tom Barrett criticized the PSC decision stating, in part, " The PSC and State Legislature believe that private investor-owned utilities, which use publicly financed roadways for free, should be given special treatment when it comes to public improvement projects in Milwaukee. We disagree."

According to city leaders, they have reduced the project’s utility costs from the original estimate of upwards of $55 million to $20 million and last week received $3.18 million in federal aid, as recommended by national and state agencies.

Those applauding the PSC decision, insist utility customers in other communities, should not have to help pay for a streetcar line in the City of Milwaukee.