Wisconsin Utility Regulators Approve Rate Hikes for We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service

Wisconsin utility regulators approved rate hikes for electric and natural gas customers served by two of the state’s largest utilities on Thursday, but they reduced profits utilities can collect amid outcry from financially-strapped ratepayers.

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved overall electric rate hikes of 8.8 percent for We Energies and 9 percent for Wisconsin Public Service, according to commission staff. The increase is higher than what utilities initially proposed, but less than changes they suggested later that would have shifted more costs to residential customers.

This fall, the utilities owned by Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group asked for electric rate hikes of 13 percent for We Energies residential customers and a nearly 15 percent increase for Wisconsin Public Service, or WPS, ratepayers. That increase would have cost the average homeowner at least $14 more per month beginning in January.

Now, We Energies residential customers will see a nearly 11 percent increase that will cost them $11 to $12 more per month, according to preliminary figures from the commission and utilities. WPS customers will spend $9 more per month.

For natural gas, commission staff estimate rates will increase 6.2 percent, or roughly $47 annually, for Wisconsin Gas customers and 9.5 percent, or roughly $63 annually, for Wisconsin Electric Gas customers. WPS gas rates will climb 7 percent overall. With heating bills slated to rise, the utilities expect gas customers to pay $20 to $30 more per month this winter, including the rate hikes.

The commission is expected to finalize and approve a written order on its decision this month. We Energies serves more than 1.1 million electric customers and 1.1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Public Service provides electricity to 457,000 electric customers and 338,000 natural gas customers.