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New Richmond electrical rates ready for adjustment

It's been seven years since New Richmond Utilities has changed its rates.

Now, thanks to a recently completed rate study conducted by Wisconsin Public Power Inc., rates to residential, commercial and industrial customers will likely be adjusted this summer.

According to Mike Darrow, New Richmond city administrator and utilities manager, the rate adjustments need to gain final approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin before they can go into effect.

Overall, electricity rates for customers will rise 2.37 percent.

But due to some adjustments in rates for large businesses, some customers might see as much as a 4.92 percent drop in their rates.

Darrow said some businesses that consume large quantities of electricity have expressed their concern over high rates in recent years.

"We're listening and understand their concerns ... and we're doing something about it," Darrow said. "We think our new rates are very competitive."

Darrow said utilities officials will be meeting with many of the city's large electricity users over the next month to explain the proposed rate adjustments. Utilities officials will also be offering suggestions for energy conservation measures that can save businesses even more money, he added.

As the overall rate increase approaches, Darrow said New Richmond Utilities is also planning to send out statements to all residential and business customers outlining their recent energy usage and comparing it to previous years.

Along with that mailing, Darrow explained, will be suggestions for how residential customers and others can conserve energy and save money.

"Every customer will get one of those," he said.

New Richmond Utilities' last rate increase (totaling 4.07 percent) occurred on April 1, 2006. The upcoming rate hike will bring in an additional $232,697 in revenue for the utility, according to projections.

That increase in revenue would allow New Richmond Utilities to realize a 6 percent rate of return, which is the maximum allowed by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. According to the department's most recent audit, its rate of return was about 1.4 percent.