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November 19, 2015

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Tyler Huebner, Executive Director

Public Service Commission Sharply Trims WPS’ Fixed Charge Request

State regulatory agency grants Wisconsin Public Service only a $2 monthly increase instead of the $6 requested

In today’s 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.

One year earlier, the Commission approved a request from WPS to hike its mandatory fixed charge 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 reached with Chairperson Ellen Nowak to increase the fixed charge by $2 per month, to $21, a 10% increase.

“We are pleased that the Commission has slowed down and granted a much smaller fixed charge increase than what WPS had 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 high fixed charges 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.

In the rate case, RENEW presented research demonstrating that regulators in other states were not supportive of utility requests to hike fixed charges. 

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