BWL Rate Hike a Possibility

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LANSING (WILX)-- The Lansing Board of Water and Light are possibly considering another rate hike.

Customers are already seeing two rate increases this year, one water, one electric. This third hike would be a result from BWL approving to raise their 'return on equity' to the city.

Tuesday evening BWL Board of Commission voted and approved to raise the "return on equity" payment from 5% to 6.1%. The increase will give Lansing an extra 4 million dollars next year to balance the budget. It's the second year in a row the the city asked BWL for the increase.

Last year BWL didn't have to raise utility rates as a result but Sandra Zerkle, Board Commissioner for BWL, says this time around it may be different.

"It will cost more than 11 million dollars out of our budget. We still have aging facilities, and this puts pressure on us. "

No rate hike has been approved yet, but Zerkle says she will be looking at it later on this year to ensure BWL is still making a profit.

"It won't an easy decision. We know how another rate increase would burden low income households."

Lansing City Council isn't eager to see a rate increase on customers, but if it comes to it president Carol Wood wants to see about charging different rates based on location.

"If we're going to raise rates lets see whether we can be charging a different charge for those who live outside the city," said Wood.

Zerkle's not too fond of the idea, but she says it's a possibility.

"I have had concerns from people who live out of the city and work within the city, but it's certainly something we can look at," said Zerkle.

BWL had to increase water rates 8% earlier this month to compensate for fire hydrant usage, and electric rates will go up 3 % October 1st to help pay for the new power plant.

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