Consumers' Asks for Rate Hike

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Consumers Energy Co. is asking state utility regulators to raise residential rates by an average $9 a month beginning in 2006, a company spokesman said Friday.

The Jackson-based utility filed a request for an overall increase of $320 million with the Michigan Public Service Commission, spokesman Dan Bishop said.

If the commission approves the request, Bishop said residential customers who use an average 750 kilowatts of power a month will see their bills go up from the current $63 to $72.

Michigan Public Service Commission spokeswoman Judy Palnau pinned the proposed increase at 16 percent.

Bishop said Consumers Energy needs to raise rates to continue to provide reliable electricity service and keep up with federal clean air standards.

"At all of our major coal plants, we're spending money to comply with federal requirements," Bishop said.

Consumers Energy's rate request came a little more than three weeks after state regulators voted to allow DTE Energy Co. subsidiary Detroit Edison to increase its residential rates by seven percent, or about $5.64 per month, beginning in 2006.

Residential rates were cut by five percent and frozen there under the state's electric restructuring law, which took effect in 2000. The cap is set to end on Dec. 31, 2005.

If approved, the Consumer Energy rate increase would be the first for its residential customers since 1996, Bishop said.

Palnau said regulators received the Consumers Energy rate request on Friday. The commission has a nine-month timeline to decide the case, but if it takes longer, it must notify the governor and the Legislature, she said.

Consumers Energy has 1.75 million customers spread across the Lower Peninsula. Detroit Edison serves the Thumb region, the city of Detroit and surrounding areas.

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