- Wisconsin regulators have trimmed a rate increase requested by Alliant Energy, but still approved a hike that will add more than $4/month to residential power bills and double fixed fees by 2018.
- The state's Public Service Commission last week allowed Alliant to raise rates by 0.83%, or $9.5 million; the utility had asked for a a 1.1% increase in electric revenues, or $12.9 million.
- Customer advocates decried the decision, especially a plan to double fixed charges from $7.67, to $15/month, saying it would hit seniors, low-income and solar customers hardest. The utility had requested even higher monthly fees.
Wisconsin utilities have come under the public eye in the past few years for their push to boost fixed charges. Solar advocates in particular have claimed boosting fixed charges will dent the nascent market. Unlike many states where the fixed charge increases are aimed at a particular subset of residential customers—such as distributed generation ratepayers—Wisconsin utilities usually propose to apply them across the board.
In this instance, Alliant got most of what it wanted in its Wisconsin rate proceeding, including a gas rate hike that will add almost $3.50/month to bills. But it had requested fixed monthly electric fees at $18, and though regulators trimmed that number, advocates say final increase will add 4% to 5% to power bills.
“Increasing the fixed charge will raise bills for customers that use smaller amounts of electricity monthly, such as seniors, apartment-dwellers, and energy-conscious customers including those who have installed solar panels,” RENEW Wisconsin Executive Director Tyler Huebner said in a statement.
The group pointed out that Alliant’s Iowa customers pay fixed monthly charges of just $10.50, and filed testimony in the case that it said shows fixed charges are falling out of favor around the nation. From the utility's perspective, Alliant has pointed out that this is the first retail electric and natural gas base rate request it has made since 2010.