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).