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Non-profits educate MN Power customers on proposed rate increase

June 6, 2017 /
KBJR6 Duluth

DULUTH, MN – Duluth residents are facing a proposed rate increase from Minnesota Power that could raise their bills by as much as $300 dollars a year.

On Tuesday, three non profit organizations held a meeting to help consumers prepare for those proposed increases, should they happen.

Minnesota Power has asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to approve a $39 million dollar rate hike.

That request has many Duluth Residents concerned.

“I care about those in the community [who don’t have] the wherewithal to allow for that in their budgets, and they’re already paying a greater percentage, of their budget for heating and electric costs.” Said Linda Herron, an attendee.

Three non-profit organizations called a meeting to listen to public concern and educate consumers about the proposed increases.

At the same time they educated attendees on how to participate in an upcoming series of Minnesota Power public hearings.
“What we want citizens to do is question what’s out there. Often times, I think, when a proposal is made by the utility, people will say, ‘well, they must know what they’re talking about’. But there are ultimately two very, very different perspectives involved, and sometimes there’s winners and losers, and as a society we really need to look at that.” Said Bret Pence Coordinator for Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light.

The proposal is part of Minnesota Power’s quest to move to more renewable energy.

The PUC has already approved a request to increase rates for residential customers while lowering rates for taconite mines and paper mills.

That increase has not been implemented yet.

Buddy Robinson, Staff Director for an organization that claims to seek economic justice for low and middle income people, says the local economy can’t withstand the increases Minnesota Power has requested.

“People with a modest income really can’t afford that kind of an increase. There is a little bit of protection for some people with low income, but at best only about one-third of the low-income people will get any help at all.” Said Robinson.

The offices of the Minnesota Attorney General and the Minnesota Department of Commerce have recommended that the PUC not approve the General Rate Increase request saying the power company’s rates are already too high.

That’s something Minnesota Power has said they respectfully disagree with saying, “We’ve been investing in our infrastructure, investing in our transmission to ensure that we have safe and reliable power.” Said Amy Rutledge, Manager – Corporate Communications with Minnesota Power.

The PUC is accepting written Public Comment on the rate increases through July 3rd and Minnesota Power is holding a
series of public meetings, throughout the region, between June 19th and June 22nd.

Monday, June 19, 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Eveleth Range Recreation & Civic Center
901 Hat Trick Avenue

Tuesday, June 20, 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
The Inn on Lake Superior
350 Canal Park Drive

Grand Rapids
Wednesday, June 21, 6:30 p.m.
Itasca Community College
Backes Student Center
Continued Learning Conference Center
1851 East Highway 169

Little Falls
Thursday, June 22, 5:00 p.m.
Morrison County Government Center
213 1st Avenue Southeast

Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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