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Kimberly Houk ReportingRunning our air conditioners this summer may burn a hole in our wallets. The Utah Public Service Commission has approved a $65 million rate increase for Utah Power. How the rate increase will be spread among consumers is still in question.
The power company wants to divide the rate increase into 3 different classes. If a proposed settlement is approved, those customers who use more electricity, will pay a higher percentage of the rate increase. But come April, everyone can expect to pay at least 7.7 percent more for power.
Dave Eskelsen, Utah Power: “Utah’s use profile has been getting more and more peaky in the summer. That peak power is more expensive to provide, so customers who use more of that peak energy should pay more for it.”
Reva Gibson, Salt Lake County Resident: “I always question if that’s really their costs. That’s my concern. Is it really necessary?”
It may be bad timing for Utah Power to be announcing a rate increase, but they say it's necessary to cover the costs of providing electricity.
Mike Elifritz, Salt Lake County Resident: “The reason they had the problems they did is because they try to keep rates as low as possible. And in order to build a better infrastructure that won't be as susceptible to a huge power storm, they would have to raise rates. If people want a more secure grid then they're going to have to pay for it."
Roger Ball, Consumer Advocate: “I would hope that people would recognize that it’s a fair and reasonable increase representing the reality of a system that has been improved.”
Roger Ball is a consumer advocate. He says the power company has made several costly improvements in its infrastructure. Originally Utah Power asked for a $125 million increase. Ball was part of a team that talked them down to $65 million -- a figure he says is fair.
Roger Ball: “I believe the committee has protected consumers’ interests very carefully here.”
If passed, the rate increase will work like this. You'll pay 6.7 cents per kilowatt for the first 400 used. The next 600 kilowatts would cost 7.6 cents per kilowatt. And every kilowatt over 1,000 used will cost 9 cents.
Carol Nelson, Salt Lake County Resident: “I think it stinks. I think we pay enough as it is.”
The $65 million increase is a done deal. How that rate increase gets passed on to users is still subject to approval by the Public Service Commission. If it's approved, the average customer would see a $3 increase, but those customers who use a lot of electricity might be paying $81 more per month.