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Utility Customers Protest Proposed Rate Changes

Madison Gas & Electric, Among Other Utilities, Wants To Increase Fixed Fees

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Utility customers held a rally on Thursday protesting rate changes proposed by Madison Gas & Electric, saying that the changes would hurt low-income residents and people considering installing solar panels.

People at the rally demanded that MG&E withdraw its rate proposal before the Public Service Commission. MG&E’s plan would nearly double fixed monthly fees while reducing charges for the amount of energy used.

The protest was held at high noon under blue skies, with a tuba player belting out the song “You are My Sunshine” in the background. Speaking through a bullhorn, Shahla Werner of the Sierra Club said the utility’s proposal does not promote conservation.

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“We’re going to charge you no matter how much you use, and we’ll even give you a discount for using more — so why bother saving or putting solar panels on your house?” she said.

MG&E customer Bill Kramer said he had been considering installing solar panels for his home before the company proposed the rate changes.

“Why not keep it at the same rate and then give those that add solar a discount?” he said. “They’re doing the right thing.”

The plan grandfathers in current solar customers. MG&E also promises to extend current rates to some low income residents.

A hearing before the Public Service Commission is planned Oct. 9.

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