PSC Holds Hearing For Utility’s Proposal To Increase Fixed Electricity Rates On Bills

Fixed Rate Portions Of Bills Would More Than Double For Many Customers Of Wisconsin Public Service Corporation

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The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin held the first of several public meetings on Wednesday to discuss rate increases requested by utilities in the state.

Wednesday’s meeting was to discuss the 8 percent rate increase requested by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, one of three utility companies seeking a fee hike. The increase would leave monthly fixed rates at $25 a month for residential customers and $35 for small businesses — more than double the current rates.

The company said the increase is needed because of higher fuel costs and inflation. Ronda Ferguson, a representative for the utility, said that the average consumer would not feel the effects of the rate change, since the fixed-rate increase comes with a reduction in how much the company charges for the amount of power a consumer actually uses.

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“The average customer will break even on this rate design proposal,” said Ferguson. “Their total bill will not change.”

Opponents say the fixed rate increase would take away customers’ motivation to conserve energy, and that the hike would place an undue burden on certain populations, such as senior citizens.

“It’s unfair to put the burden of paying for high users on individuals who have limited or fixed income,” said Helen Marks Dicks, the state issues advocacy director for AARP Wisconsin.

More hearings are scheduled in Milwaukee and Madison both this month and in October for customers of We Energies and Madison Gas & Electric. The PSC is expected to approve or deny the rate increases by the end of the year.

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