Charlie Higley, (608) 251-3322 x. 14
MADISON – In another blow to consumers, the request by Madison Gas &
Electric Company (MGE) to increase electric rates for 2005 was approved
today by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC).
Starting in January, MGE can raise residential electricity rates by about
9%, though the exact amount of the increase won’t be known until the PSC
issues a written decision in the coming weeks.
MGE’s residential electricity rates have increased by more than 50% since
1997, or nearly three times the post-1997 inflation rate of 17%. MGE
residential electricity rates remain the highest in the Midwest when
compared to 15 utilities in neighboring states.
“Utility rate hikes are hammering Wisconsin families and the state’s
economy,” said Charlie Higley, CUB’s executive director. “Wisconsin
needs to invest more in energy efficiency programs such as Focus on
Energy, which reduce the impact of volatile natural gas prices. Energy
efficiency programs help Wisconsin residents and businesses reduce their
energy bills, strengthen the economy, and protect the environment.”
In proceedings at the PSC, CUB testified that MGE electricity rates for
residential customers should not be increased at all, or at much lower
levels than requested by MGE. With this rate increase, residential
customers will be paying for costs that should be paid by MGE’s larger
CUB also testified that MGE should encourage consumers to save energy
with programs that would shrink electricity usage during peak periods.
Though praised by several commissioners, the PSC decided that MGE does
not have to offer these innovative, energy-saving programs at this time.
CUB urges MGE to develop programs for residential customers that would
shrink electricity usage during peak periods, thereby reducing
residential customer bills. CUB also urges Governor Doyle and the state
Legislature to enact all the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force
on Energy Efficiency and Renewables (available at
www.energytaskforce.wi.gov), which would strengthen Focus on Energy, the
state’s energy efficiency program. Energy efficiency and load management
programs offer proven protection against the costly impact of volatile
natural gas prices.
The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin is a member-supported nonprofit
organization that advocates for reliable and affordable utility service
and that represents the interests of residential, farm, and small
business customers of electric, natural gas, and telecommunication
utilities before regulatory agencies, the legislature, and the courts.