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UPDATED: Controversy over energy rate hike

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Updated: Thursday, October 9, 2014 --- 5:21pm

The bill of MG&E customers may be going up.

This week MG&E customers received a letter in the mail notifying them of a rate change. The proposed increase is $2.80 for the "typical" customer.

When MG&E first proposed their rate increase, they had to submit an application to the Public Service Commission.

The Public Service Commission calls a hearing to decide whether to approve the incease.

Thursday, the gas and electric company sat before the Public Service Commission for their hearing, and the public was able to voice their opinions.

"It's a Robin Hood in reverse. Give to the rich, and rob from the poor," said Richard Blaschke, an MG&E customer.

Customers like Blaschke are hoping the gas and electric company will throw their proposed rate hikes in the smokestacks.

"I want to inform MG&E that they will be creating some serious enemies if they go ahead with this proposal," said David Leeper, an MG&E customer.

MG&E says they're happy their customers are voicing their opinion.

"We appreciate that; we encourage our customers to be involved in the process," said Steve Schultz, an MG&E

A lot of talk from customers was about the "grid." But for those asking what it is, Schultz is happy to explain.

"With more solar installation...the grid is seeing two way flow of energy, so energy is coming off, to homes to customers but also have customers producing energy and putting on the grid," said Schultz

Schultz says the money is needed to make sure they can handle that increasing, two-way, home grown energy. Schultz stresses the change will also sustain their green initiatives.

"The less energy you use the less your bills are going to be," said Schultz.

Schultz also says customers that have invested in solar installations, or have the paperwork signed to do so by the end of the year, will be granfathered into their current rate for 15 years -- in an effort to show their investment in renewable energy.

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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