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Regulators approve rate hikes for Alliant, Xcel customers
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Regulators approve rate hikes for Alliant, Xcel customers

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Wisconsin regulators have approved rate increases for two utilities serving about a quarter of the state’s customers.

Alliant Energy’s electricity rates will rise 6.2% in 2022 and stay flat the next year under the plan approved by the Public Service Commission. Gas rates will rise 8.6% next year.

Xcel Energy electricity rates will rise more than 10% next year and at least another 2.5% in 2023 depending on fuel prices. Gas rates will go up 8.4% in 2022 and another 2.3% the next year.

The $670 million plant in Beloit is Wisconsin's newest gas-fired power plant and second largest.

For Alliant customers, that will add about $10 a month to the typical residential electricity bill and about $4 a month to the average gas bill in 2022, according to PSC estimates.

Xcel customers can expect to pay about $5.63 more per month for electricity and $4.63 more for gas next year. The utility also agreed to reduce the current $17 flat monthly fee by $1 each year, something consumer advocates have long sought.

Together the utilities serve more than 734,000 households and businesses.

The commission voted 2-1 to approve the two-year rate structures negotiated by customer and environmental advocates, though commissioners expressed concern about use of the 2017 law that allows utilities to negotiate with interested parties before coming to the commission for rate changes.

In both cases the rate increases were driven by higher fuel costs as well as new solar energy plants and other capital investments.

Commissioner Ellen Nowak voted against both settlements, citing elements that she said deserved greater scrutiny and transparency.

Nowak also balked at the size of the increases, which are driven largely by investments previously approved by the commission.

“It’s build-build-build, build-build. And it’s costing money,” Nowak said. “We should be going toward renewables. But the race to get there … it can be done in a more economical way that will have less impact on ratepayers.”

And savings from the 2017 federal tax cuts that have been used to offset added expenses in previous years have now been exhausted.

“We are going to have to deal with reality and there is nothing there to blunt it,” said PSC Chair Rebecca Valcq.

The PSC is still considering a settlement agreement for Madison Gas and Electric that would raise the average residential bill by about $4 a month.

WEC Energy Group has proposed to keep rates flat next year for customers of We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service Corp.

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