Energy / Fixed Rate Hikes

Other states balk at hiking utility fixed fee

mjsrates14g1MILWAUKEE, WI — “As Alliant Energy Corp. seeks to more than double its fixed customer charge on monthly electric bills over the next two years, a review of rate cases around the country finds that regulators in other states are taking a dimmer view of these proposals than Wisconsin.

Critics say the proposals to increase fixed fees, also known as monthly customer charges, penalize apartment dwellers and those who have taken steps to conserve energy. Utilities say they’re a fairer way to pay for the utility system.

Over the past two years, Wisconsin utilities have been aggressive in seeking big expansions of the customer charge, and the state Public Service Commission has been receptive, granting average increases of about 66%.

But around the country, as the issue has received more attention, 48 different utilities that have proposed to increase the fixed charge by at least 52% have had to settle for about one-fourth of that — just a 14% increase.

The increases represent a strategy that utilities turn to as a way to boost revenues at a time when electricity sales growth has flattened, with the prevalence of energy-saving devices and efforts by some customers to conserve to keep costs down.”

— Thomas Content, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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