Can a municipality require phone/electric companies to place utility lines in public right of ways underground?
Yes. Wisconsin Public Service Commission rules allow a municipality to require placement of transmission or distribution facilities (e.g., telephone lines and power lines) located in public right of ways underground without reimbursement of costs if there is an adequate health, safety or public welfare justification for the requirement that is not based solely on aesthetics. PSC 130.03(1). However, a municipality can still require underground placement of lines for aesthetic or other reasons if it will reimburse the utility for the difference in cost between the standard design or construction techniques of the utility and underground placement is consistent with safe and reliable utility construction practices. PSC 130.03(2).