Power-line profit may wane

Federal energy regulators may dial down incentives now in place to build high-voltage power lines, a research analyst said Tuesday.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is considering proposals to reduce the rate of return, or profit, that utilities receive from building power lines.

Most utility rates are decided by state utility commissions, including the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. The PSC regulates electric and natural gas utilities like We Energies, as well as local water utilities.

But in the case of power-line utilities, like American Transmission Co. of Pewaukee, rates are set by the federal energy commission.

The federal agency had set high rates of return as an incentive to build transmission lines, which utilities overlooked for years, during a push in states across the country to move away from monopoly utility service.

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