Superior utility customers would see their monthly costs go up.  At least that's the plan with the recent filing by Superior Water Light and Power to make "rate adjustments" to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

The filing dated April 29 looks for approval on adjusted rates for natural gas, electric, and water.  Some of the rate increases are significant.

According to an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], Superior utility customers would see an increase in both the natural gas and electric portions of their monthly statement.  Meanwhile, customers would actually see a decrease on the rate the pay for water.

Here is a breakdown of what rate adjustments SWLP is seeking:

  • Natural gas:  8.7% increase
  • Electric:  3.1% increase
  • Water:  9.6% decrease

Compiled together, the average SWLP utility customer in Superior would see their monthly bill increase by 2.7%.

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As part of the filing, the utility company needed to provide reasoning behind the requested rate adjustments.  SWLP has shared that the rate adjustments requested in the April 29 filing with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission "reflect changes in revenue, expenses, and customer base".  That change in customer base includes "higher projected water sales in 2023 as the Superior Refinery is expected to return to operation".

If approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, the increase in utility rates would create a situation where SWLP would be flush with revenue for capital improvements. The utility company explains:

"The proposed rate changes would increase SWLP's revenue by about $3.3 million to support infrastructure improvements, enhance reliability, and provide programs that utility customers expect."

In defense of the request, utility officials cite that the practice is routine in nature.  SWLP President Rob Sandstrom explains:

"Adjustments to rates are part of doing business as a regulated utility, and we've worked hard to keep rates affordable by keeping our operating costs near 2019 levels.  We continue to make cost-effective investments to enhance the reliability and resiliency in our energy and water systems and offer programs to help customers gain insight into how much energy and water they use - all while keeping rates as low as possible."

This current rate adjustment request comes after the company delayed the last one.  SWLP "was required to file a rate request in 2020, but was granted an approval to delay it for two years because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on customers."

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