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Activists Say Xcel Energy’s Proposed Rate Hike Would Hurt Elderly, Low-Income Families

Public Service Commission Expected To Rule On Plan By Next Year

Karim D. Ghantous (CC-BY)

Advocates for the elderly and low-income families are decrying an Xcel Energy proposal to increase their fixed electricity rate, saying that the rate hike is a tax on the poor.

Xcel Energy officials are asking the Public Service Commission for permission to increase its fixed rate from $8 to $18 per month.

Utility officials said it’s a fair way for customers to reimburse infrastructure costs, but AARP and the group JONAH, or Joining Our Neighbors Advancing Hope, said that the plan punishes those who use less electricity.

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John Stedman, an organizer with JONAH, said that the plan would disproportionately affect low-income families.

“A minimal user of energy and electricity, which is characteristic of low-income people, the rate increase would be in percentage terms significantly more than that,” he said.

If approved, Xcel would be the third Wisconsin utility to raise its fixed rate. PSC is gathering public comment at public hearings around the state. They’re expected to rule on Xcel’s rate request by the first of the year.

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