Two utility companies in the state are asking for rate hikes. That's when the Citizen's Utilities Board goes to work.

WE Energies wants a sixteen percent rate hike by 2009 and it could be more if the state's largest utility can't sell the Point Beach Nuclear Plant at Two Rivers. MG&E wants a combined ten percent hike in natural gas and electricity rates.

CUB's Charlie Higley says they always ask for more than what they think they will get. It's a little bit of gamesmanship, he says.

Whatever the hike eventually is, Higley says the increases will hurt household budgets and his group will do it's best to keep the hikes at a minimum when it argues before the PSC.

Higley says usually they can knock millions off the request and claims his advocacy group has save ratepayers hundreds of millions over the years.

Both utilities say the cost of transmitting electricity is going up. WE Energies alone says it needs 650-million dollars more to make sure there are no brownouts in the future.

AUDIO: Jim Dick reports ( 1:04 MP3 )

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