Public Service Commission Sharply Trims WPS’ Fixed Charge Request
State Regulatory Agency Grants Wisconsin Public Service only a $2 increase instead of the $6 requested
During the November 19th open meeting, the Public Service Commission sharply trimmed Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service’s request to increase monthly mandatory charges on small electricity customers from $19 to $25. Instead, the Commission settled on a $2/month increase, to $21/month, while agreeing to study the issue in greater depth.
WPS had received an increase in the mandatory fixed charge last year from $10.40 to $19 per month for residential and other small customers.
Commissioners Phil Montgomery and Mike Huebsch initially signaled interest in granting no increase at all. A compromise was met with Chairperson Ellen Nowak to increase the fixed charge by $2 per month, to $21, and conduct an analysis of the impacts to customers of the higher fixed charges.
“We are pleased that the Commission has slowed down and granted a much smaller fixed charge increase than what WPS requested,” said Tyler Huebner, RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director. “This sends a signal that the Commission is responding to customers who have expressed a wide variety of concerns about these high fixed charges. In fact, 368 people voiced their opinion publicly and none supported higher fixed charges. We hope the analysis that’s conducted by the Commission leads to a broader discussion of how to design rates in a way that leads us towards an energy future that benefits all of Wisconsin.”
“Rate designs with a high fixed charge punish those customers who can least afford to pay more for their electricity. They take away the ability to control one’s utility bills, and they make it harder for customers to save money through conservation measures and more efficient appliances. This is at bottom an issue of consumer fairness, and many more consumers than usual spoke up,” said Huebner.
RENEW’s research, which we presented in this rate case, clearly showed that regulators in other states were not supportive of utility requests to hike fixed charges.
RENEW Wisconsin leads and accelerates the transformation to Wisconsin’s renewable energy future through advocacy, education, and collaboration. More information on RENEW’s web site at www.renewwisconsin.org.