Utility costs riseMADISON — Average city residential customers of Superior Light Water & Power will pay $8.51 more on their monthly bills, according to an order issued Thursday by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
By: By Kevin Murphy/For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
MADISON — Average city residential customers of Superior Light Water & Power will pay $8.51 more on their monthly bills, according to an order issued Thursday by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
Average residential customers living in the city of Superior currently paying $222.34 monthly for electrical, gas and water services would pay $230.85 under the new rates that take effect in January, said Paul Holt, SWL&P treasurer.
On average, SWL&P residential customers use 660 kilowatt hours of electricity, 3,740 gallons of water (5 CCF), 108 therms of natural gas, Holt said. The order increases those average usages by $2 for electricity and $3 for water, and decreases the cost for natural gas by about 50 cents for the average user. City residents will also see a $2 increase for public fire protection fee, , said Holt.
A wholly-owned subsidiary of ALLETE, Inc., SWL&P also provides some of its utility services to several surrounding municipalities, which don’t have a public fire protection charge.
In May, the utility filed an application to increase overall water rates by 13.35 percent, electric rates by 1.22 percent and natural gas rates by .66 percent.
After a review, the PSC found that under current rates water revenues were deficient by $1.163 million and increased rates 13.79 percent; electrical revenues were deficient by $588,000 and increased rates 1.25 percent; and natural gas rates produced $15,000 in excess revenue and cut rates by .66 percent, according to the PSC order.
The rates allow SWL&P to earn a 7.87 percent rate of return on its electric utility, a 9.77 percent return on natural gas operations and 6.91 percent return on water operations, according to the PSC order.
Holt said the rate case was driven by water utility past and anticipated capital expenses. In recent years, SWL&P constructed the city’s first water tower, rebuilt two underground reservoirs, and replaced two 100-year-old water mains.
Next year it plans to replace one mile of water main when the city reconstructs Tower Avenue, said Holt.
SWL&P’s last rate increase was in 2009.
“No one likes to file rate cases; lot of times a utility’s hand is forced by necessary improvements that (we) have to make. We can’t go in and only file a water case because a lot of our employees work on all three (utilities) and the PSC wants to see what all three utility services are doing,” Holt said.
The PSC allowed SWL&P to recover $27,503 of the $110,014 it included in the rate application for its Incentive Compensation Program for its top four management employees.
The utility established there was a direct customer benefit related to “leadership, operating improvements and retention” from the incentive program, according to the order.