A rate increase from the state's biggest utility needs tweaking, according to a group representing industrial customers. Todd Stuart, executive director of the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group says the request by WE Energies for a 2.8 percent rate bump comes at a bad time. “Not only is it an increase, but if you look at the increase from the start of 2008, it's about a twenty percent increase from a year or so ago, once credits from the sale of a nuclear power plant are gone,” says Stuart.
That's the Point Beach plant which the utility sold in 2007 – and the end of those credits could mean a rate increase of nearly five percent next year, and four and a half percent in 2011. WE Energies spokesman Brian Manthey says the rate increase will help cover costs of the new Oak Creek plant and transmission upgrades, and allow the utility to avoid the use of imported power. That, says Manthey, will mean less of a rate increase than what's been seen recently in other regions. “Around the country there are some very large increases that have been asked for in a lot of states. upwards of 40 percent in some cases,” Manthey says.
The increase must be approved by the state Public Service Commission, which will hold public hearings on the request.