- The Wisconsin Public Service Commission last week approved a 75% increase in the fixed monthly charge for residential, farm and small commercial customers of Northern States Power, boosting it from $8 to $14. The regulators also approved a reduction in volumetric rates of approximately $0.07/kWh.
- The Xcel subsidiary originally requested an $18 per month flat fee, but regulators scaled it back after opposition from consumer groups.
- The move could lower big electricity users' bills by about 0.7%, the Lacrosse Tribune reports, but average households would see a 0.84% in utility bills. For the smallest customers, the price increase would be more substantial. Customers with only a 200 kWh monthly consumption will see a 14%, or $4.60 per month, increase, according to the paper.
Adding in the just-approved 3.5% rate increase for natural gas, Northern States’ annual revenues will go up $7.6 million — significantly less than the $27.4 million projected for the utility's originally proposed $18 per month fixed charge.
Wisconsin’s PSC has now approved fixed charge increases for four of the state’s five big investor-owned utilities in 2014-15, averaging $7.50. Regulator-approved fixed charge increases averaged 35% nationally but 73% in Wisconsin, according to Renew Wisconsin, a clean energy advocacy group.
Because of their impacts on smaller electricity users, the rate changes are opposed by renewables and consumer advocates, including the AARP. Utilities argue fixed charges more fairly allocate infrastructure costs.
Twenty-six monthly fixed charge increases for residential customers were under consideration in Q3 2015 across 18 states, according to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center’s quarterly review of solar policy proceedings.
The average requested increase is 70%, according to study co-author Benjamin Inskeep.