RPU Board Votes to Increase Electricity Rates

November 14, 2017 10:58 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Tuesday, the Rochester Public Utilities board voted to increase electric utility rates by 1.5%.

"For us to be financially stable, for us to have cash reserves on hand, for our bond rating purposes, rate increases are necessary sometimes," Rochester Public Utilities Employee Tony Benson said.  

Benson said most utility companies increase their rates every couple of years. RPU’s most recent time was 2014.

"An average RPU residential customer would see roughly an increase of $1.55 per month," Benson said.

That price might sound affordable to some; however,  others said low-income families may feel the effects.

"So on your energy utility bill, there's two basic parts that go up and down with how much electricity that you use, so if you want to save money you just shut off some lights," Rick Morris said.

Morris works with the Sierra Club, North Star Chapter and Rochester Clean Energy. He said it's the fixed-rate customer charge that can put people in a bind.

"The latest rate increase that fixed charge is going up from about $18 to about $20, and it puts us as one of the highest fixed charges in Minnesota," Morris said.

RPU said although these increases are not ideal for some customers, they made the best decision from the options and advice they were given.

"As those costs increase it certainly is more difficult on low-income residents, we understand that at the same time it's difficult for us to say one class should be subsidizing another and that's the philosophy we're trying to hold with," RPU board member Brian Morgan said.  


The item now moves forward to the Rochester City Council. If they pass it, the rate adjustment will go into effect next year.


Elise Romas

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