GREEN BAY - Wisconsin Public Service wants to raise its electric and natural gas rates for 2014.
The Green Bay-based utility is asking to raise the electric rate 7.4 percent and the natural gas rate 5.6 percent. WPS says its electric rates have been relatively flat for several years and gas distribution rates have fallen.
WPS says it wants to raise rates for several reasons:
- Completion of a one-time fuel refund to customers which had the effect of keeping rates flat in 2013
- The purchase and operation of the gas-fired combined cycle Fox Energy Center generating units
- Installation of environmental controls at the Columbia Power Plant near Portage (WPS is a co-owner of the plant)
- Increased transmission costs
- Improving electric reliability by converting company distribution lines with lower performance history from overhead to underground
- General inflation
The company also says the hikes are not as high as they could be because of lower costs stemming from the ending of purchase contracts with Dominion and Fox Energy Center; a refund to customers from the company's electric decoupling plan; and lower employee benefit costs.
If approved, the new rates would increase electric bills about $5.78 per month for customers using about 600 kilowatt-hours per month. The new rates would increase natural gas bills about $3.64 per month for customers using about 800 therms per month.
The state Public Service Commission has final say over utility rates and would have to approve WPS's request.
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