WPS requests 14% electricity rate hike

WPS submitted a request that's twice as much as the proposal this summer for homeowners, renters and small businesses.
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 4:35 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2022 at 6:36 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Electric bills could go up next year in Northeast Wisconsin more than anticipated.

Wisconsin Public Service submitted a new rate proposal for 2023 to the state’s Public Service Commission.

If you’re a customer, you may have received a flier from WPS in the mail this summer. At that time, the proposed rate for homeowners and renters would have increased about $6 per month.

But the recent submission shows the proposed rate would more than double that increase -- to almost $15 more per month.

“That’s a big switch since the spring, and we were disappointed that the utility reversed its position on favoring residential customers,” said Tom Content, executive director for Citizen Utility Board of Wisconsin, a consumer organization.

The rate doubles for small businesses, from a $17 increase to a proposal of almost $35 per month.

The proposed rate increase stays around 7% for large, commercial businesses.

“Part of the reason for that change in the cost to our different customer groups is technical,” WPS spokesman Matt Cullen said. “We’ve had an increase in the cost of natural gas and increase in the cost of coal, and that’s provided as part of this updated rate review proposal.”

“This is only the third time in the past eight years that we’ve requested an increase to our base rates for our electric customers,” Cullen said. “And with our recommendation, the average residential electric customers bill would remain below the national average and in line with the Midwest average as well.”

Cullen said when you average it out over the past eight years, WPS rates increased less than half of 1% annually.

But the non-profit consumer advocate says he’s disappointed. “WPS used to have the lowest rates in the state of some of the big five big utilities, and that they’ve already, they’ve already edged up where they’re no longer the least-cost utility, and this will put more pressure on customers at a time of high heating costs and everything. So that’s why we’re really trying to get the word out,” said Content.

“Kind of a double whammy, in fact, because you got these rate increases, plus the natural gas increases hitting our heating bills,” Content continued. “And WPS can’t control the price of natural gas. You and I can’t control the commodity price of natural gas. And so we’ve been putting out alerts to the citizens of Wisconsin saying you know, be prepared for one of the most costly heating cost seasons in over a decade is this coming winter.”

WPS’s proposal still needs to be approved by the state commission by the end of the year.

If you’d like to voice your opinion on the rate proposal, there are public hearings on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the Neville Public Museum at 2 P.M. and 6 P.M.

Two public hearings will be held at Green Bay's Neville Public Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 1
The request would increase bills by more than double the amount customers were told about in July