New orders announced by Gov. Evers affect DPI, utility rules, additional consumer protections

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) -- Governor Tony Evers has announced a new emergency order, as well as a separate order that directs the state's Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to suspend some administrative rules while the state is in a COVID-19 public health emergency.

According to Evers' office, emergency Order #11 will suspend several utility-related administrative rules.

His office says this will pave the way for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to temporarily order further consumer protections during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Officials say following the emergency order, Rebecca Cameron Valcq, PSC Chairperson, directed regulated utilities in the state to take the following actions:

-Stop utility disconnection for nonpayment for all customers, including commercial, industrial, and farm accounts
-Cease assessing late fees to customer accounts
-Stop the practice of requiring deposits from customers for re-connection of service
-Allow deferred payment agreements for all customers who request them
-Remove any administrative barriers for customers making or reestablishing utility service
-Authorize water utilities to provide budget billing arrangements to customers. Electric and natural gas utilities are allowed to do this under current rules

Evers directed the department to suspend administrative rules relating to hours of instruction, student teacher assessments and general flexibility.

Evers' office says the order ensures the DPI will be able to streamline the waiver process for hours of instruction for public schools, as well as suspend the PI 34 requirements to allow students in teacher preparation programs to graduate on time this spring.

In addition, the order will provide the DPI with flexibility with upcoming due dates.