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Bill to Replace Lead Lines Would Let Utilities Raise Rates

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Utility companies could raise rates to help pay for removing dangerous lead service lines under an updated bipartisan proposal.

The measure was heard Wednesday by a state Senate committee.

Its sponsor, Republican Sen. Robert Cowles, wants to let utilities finance lead line replacements. He updated the proposal to require the Public Service Commission to consider the cost of such loan programs when setting rates.

Cowles says that will generate opposition. Almost 50 lawmakers from both parties support the measure.

Ed St. Peter is general manager of Kenosha Water Utility. He says protecting public health in exchange for negligible rate increases is a "no-brainer."

Lead-tainted water is especially dangerous to young children and pregnant women. Replacing lead lines can cost as much as $5,000.

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