Wisconsin regulators approve electric increase

November 27, 2014

   

Mixed monthly rates have been green-lit to increase from $10.44 to $19 starting in 2015.

MADISON - State regulators approved higher electric rates for tens of thousands of Dane County customers Wednesday, completing a trifecta of increases for electric consumers across Wisconsin heading into next year.

The three-person Public Service Commission granted Madison Gas and Electric permission to raise its fixed monthly rates from $10.44 to $19 starting in 2015. The utility's proposal also calls for reducing its hourly usage rate by a few cents. The PSC estimates the changes taken together will mean typical residential customers who use 550 kilowatts per hour will see a $3 increase in their monthly bill.

The commission also approved reducing MGE's natural gas rates by $2. The utility supplies both natural gas and electricity to about two-thirds of its 143,000 customers in Dane County; those customers would see a $1 increase when the gas decrease is set against the electric increase.

PSC Chairman Phil Montgomery and Commissioner Ellen Nowak, both appointed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, supported the plan. Commissioner Eric Callisto, who was appointed by former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, abstained.

An MGE spokesman declined comment.

The panel's approval marks the third time this month the commission has given a utility the green light to increase rates.

In early November the PSC gave Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, which serves about 444,000 customers in northeastern and north-central Wisconsin, permission to raise its fixed monthly rates from $10.44 to $19 but drop its variable rates by a few cents, resulting in a $3 average monthly increase for residential customers.

A week later the commission allowed We Energies, which serves about 1.1 million customers across southeastern Wisconsin and the Fox Valley, to raise its fixed monthly rate from $9 to $16 and drop its usage rate by less than a cent, resulting in a $1 increase on the typical monthly residential bill.

All the utilities say the fixed rate increases are designed to ensure low-usage customers pay their fair share of maintaining delivery infrastructure such as power plants and transmission poles. Consumer advocates and other opponents contend the increases are really an attempt to recoup revenue lost to conservation and essentially punish customers for turning off their lights.

The PSC is expected to issue formal written approvals for each of the three utilities' changes by the end of the year.