November 18, 2011

MADISON - The Citizens Utility Board applauds yesterday’s decision by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin not to increase electric rates for residential and small commercial customers of Wisconsin Public Service Corporation.  The PSC also reduced the rates residential customers of WPS will pay for the delivery of natural gas.

WPS had sought an increase in electric rates for 2012 of $64.2 million, or 6.7 percent; and an increase in the rates for the delivery of natural gas of $1.1 million, or 0.3 percent (the natural gas itself is purchased by the utility in open markets and the cost is passed onto customers).

WPS sought an increase in electric rates to pay for complying with the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, a new air pollution regulation issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that takes effect in January 2012.  The regulation requires utilities to reduce emissions of sulfur and nitrogen oxides, which cause acid rain and smog, and damage human health and the environment. 

CUB and other parties urged the PSC not to increase electric rates in 2012 for compliance with the air pollution rule, but rather to require WPS to track the costs of complying with the rule, and to recover these costs from ratepayers in the future.  The PSC agreed with CUB, which resulted in a savings of $24.6 million.

Other decisions by the PSC resulted in a total increase in electric rates of $8 million, or 0.8 percent, which will be borne by WPS’s large commercial and industrial customers. 

Residential and small commercial customers won’t see an increase in electric rates when the new rates take effect on January 1, 2012.  Residential gas customers will see a reduction in the rates for delivering natural gas of $7.2 million, or 2.0 percent.

“The PSC made the right decision for the residential and small commercial customers of WPS,” said Charlie Higley, executive director of CUB.  “With residential customers and small businesses still reeling from the bad economy, we’re glad the PSC set stable and declining rates for electricity and natural gas in 2012.”

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The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin is a member-supported, nonprofit organization that advocates for reliable and affordable utility service. CUB represents the interests of residential, farm, and small business customers of electric, natural gas, and telecommunication utilities before the Legislature, regulatory agencies, and the courts.