MADISON – State regulators on Tuesday approved a reduction in 2024 electricity rates for customers of Wisconsin Public Service Corp. in northeastern and northern Wisconsin.
The state Public Service Commission authorized additional costs for new generation projects the utility has built but those costs were offset by declining fuel costs expected in 2024.
In a few areas, the PSC sided with CUB and pushed back against the utility’s request. In particular, the PSC rejected WPS’ bid to bill customers for cost overruns tied to new solar projects. Those costs need to be fully evaluated after the project is completed, and overruns shouldn’t be passed on to customers now.
The PSC voted to reduce WPS rates by $32.8 million, or 2.6%. The utility’s customers saw an increase on bills in 2023 when it decided the WPS rate case last fall. Taken together with this year’s 9% increase and the projected drop for 2024, residential customers’ bills in 2024 will be about 6.5% higher than they were in 2022.
“It’s been expected that customers would see savings on fuel costs as utilities transition to more renewable energy sources, but it’s good to see that actually happening for WPS and its customers in 2024,” said Tom Content, CUB executive director. “In decisions involving all of Wisconsin’s utilities, the PSC sent a signal that utilities need to sharpen their pencils and justify every dollar they’re looking to spend, especially as they plan for an aggressive building program expected to cost billions of dollars over time.”
On other priority issues for CUB that affect WPS customers, the PSC indicated it will
- Seek savings for customers on dead coal plants: WPS this month announced plans to shut down a portion of the Weston coal plant near Wausau in the coming years. In decisions involving other utilities that are shutting down coal plants as part of the energy transition, the PSC sent a clear signal this month that utilities need to provide more comprehensive analysis to enhance cost savings for customers when those plants shut down.
• Look at better ways to divvy up costs between small customers and big business in the future: Earlier this month, the commission agreed with CUB that a fresh look at how the grid operates hour to hour and over the year should be reflected in how cost increases are divvied up among small customers and big businesses. The grid is changing as more renewables are being installed, and CUB identified a need to bring cost allocations up to date to ensure that large energy users pay their fair share,
• Stay focused on energy burden and affordability: The PSC has several other investigations pending that could lead to more options for WPS customers facing disconnection because they can’t afford their bills. That includes modifications to the utility’s forgiveness program, the Low Income Forgiveness Tool, as well as an investigation into other forms of customer assistance.
The decisions reached Tuesday will be formalized in a written order that the PSC will issue next month. WPS is expected to apply for another rate increase, for 2025-26, next spring. CUB will be involved in that case as the consumer advocate for WPS residential customers and small business customers. More information is at cubwi.org/active-cases.