June 14, 2017 /
KBJR 6 Duluth
By Emma Rechenberg
Representatives from organizations opposing the increase shared their concerns Wednesday morning during a news conference. Citizens Utility Board of MN, Citizens Federation Northeast and Interfaith Power & Light speakers said the Minnesota Power proposal would cost average residential customers using around 750 kilowatts of power a 17 percent increase in their monthly bill. The organizations calculated people using three hundred kilowatts of power could see a 23 percent increase.
This proposal is in addition to another increase, intended to pay for energy-intensive industries, like mining companies, going into effect as early as this summer.
Bret Pence with Interfaith Power and Light said this increase targets senior and low-income citizens disproportionately, while discouraging energy conservation.
“They’re actually trying to consolidate five different energy blocks into two energy blocks and raise the rates on those,” Pence said. “That of course is going to discourage conservation, and people that have made investments in energy efficiency will be stranded assets, those assets won’t be worth as much.”
Pence said that if passed, the proposal would increase costs for an average family by $225 annually.
Pat Mullen with Minnesota Power said there are services available to assist families.
“We certainly have a lot of programs available for low-income customers. I think it’s true, you not only have a lot of groups of customers that don’t support rate increases and we have programs available,” Mullen said.
Mullen said the increased rate would help improve distribution and reliability for customers.
The public is invited to attend an open hearing to discuss the proposal with Public Utilities Commission on June 20.
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