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Friday, August 5, 2011

Wind project holds down utility's costs by$12 million, coal pushes them higher

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

We Energies customers could see a small increase in electric bills in 2012 linked to the higher price of coal and other power plant fuels expected next year, the company said Wednesday.

The state's largest utility filed a plan with the state Public Service Commission that said costs linked to power plant fuels are projected to rise by about $50 million in 2012.

The utility wants to delay an increase in non-fuel rates until 2013. Whenever that increase hits customers' bills, it would result in a hike of about 6%, the utility projects.

Under the utility's plan, rates would rise in 2012 only because of power plant fuel prices, and the bottom line for customers would be an overall 2012 increase of less than 1%.

Residential customers would see a 0.7% increase, adding 77 cents a month for a typical residential customer now paying $104.90 a month for electricity, utility spokesman Brian Manthey said. Business customers would see increases of about 1% to 1.1%. . . .

The higher price of coal is projected to lead to $28 million in higher costs next year, including the price of the fuel itself and cost to deliver it by train to Wisconsin. Other increases include $10 million for power it buys from the Point Beach nuclear plant and about $8 million for natural gas.

Offsetting these increases somewhat is the state's newest and largest wind farm, set to open late this year. Generation from the Glacier Hills Wind Park would decrease 2012 fuel costs by more than $12 million, We Energies said.

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