November 6, 2014
MADISON — Today, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, on a 2 to 1 vote, approved an increase of more than 80% for the monthly customer charge paid by all residential and small business electric customers of Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC).
The Commission’s decision to restructure rates means that the fixed charge found on the bills of all WPSC residential and small business customers will jump from $10.40 to $19 per month effective January 1, 2015. The new fixed charge amount is the highest of any investor owned utility in the Midwest. The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) fought the utility’s proposal because it harms customers who use less electricity and will result in increased energy costs over the long-term.
“Today’s decision goes in the wrong direction,” said Kira Loehr, CUB executive director. “Instead of taking this opportunity to pause and consider innovative ways to handle changes in the electric industry, the decision takes the step that most helps utilities at the expense of customers. Increasing fixed charges hurts our most vulnerable low and fixed income households and frustrates residential and small business customers’ ability to lower their bills by using less energy. In the face of ever-increasing energy costs, we should all be looking for ways for customers to reduce their energy usage and save money on their electric bills.
Customers pay the fixed monthly customer charge regardless of the amount of electricity they use. Restructuring rates by increasing the fixed portion of bills diminishes the ability of customers to control their monthly electric bill through energy efficiency or conservation measures. There is no avoiding the fixed customer charge.
“Increases in the fixed monthly charges are short sighted and serve mostly to help the utilities’ bottom line. We need solutions that protect the interests of all customers while maintaining reliable electric service at a reasonable cost,” concluded Loehr.
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.