Controversy over energy rate hike

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 --- 9:40pm

Imagine your energy bill is a pie. That's the mindset Madison Gas and Electric is asking residential customers to take.

"What this is doing is not changing the pie. It's maybe changing the slices of the piece a little bit” says MG&E spokesperson Steve Schultz.

Starting next year, monthly bills could be going up. Right now, MG&E is looking at upping the customer base rate from about $10.50 a month to about $15 a month, not including an additional $4 a month grid connection charge.

But while the base rate would be going up, the energy use charge would go down slightly from $.14 to $.13 per kWh.

"So the majority of customers really aren't going to see much of difference on their overall bill” Schultz tells NBC 15.

But not everyone agrees. Rik Rosenlund with Midwest Solar Power says it's a huge change and hurts those trying to conserve energy.

"By increasing the base rate and reducing the per kilowatt charges, MG&E is reducing some of the benefits that people can see from investing in solar power” says Rosenlund.

He says the base rate boost could also hurt his business, making folks think twice about renewable energy.

"People, even though they're conscientious and they want to look at renewable energy, they also want it make sense economically” Rosenlund says.

MG&E says the proposal isn't meant to hurt alternative energy companies and instead encourages customers to be energy efficient. "The solar installation is still going to be a good payback on that” says Schultz.

The proposal is still in front of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. In around October there will be a public hearing. And then by the end of November the commission should have a decision on this rate hike.

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