MARSHFIELD — For the first time in five years, Marshfield Utilities (MU) is seeking an increase in electric rates. The last rate increase was requested in 2011 and was effective on Jan. 1, 2012. Since then MU has invested nearly $11 million in improvements in the electric utility while local operating expenses have increased 9.5 percent, or less than 2.4 percent per year.
The rate increase request has been filed with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW). If approved, the overall increase in rates would be 5 percent, which is an average increase of about 1 percent per year.
MU is also seeking an increase in water rates to address the need for replacing aging water mains. The higher rate of return would provide an additional $500,000 of revenue each year, eliminating the need for outside financing to fund the main replacements. If outside financing would be used, a $1 million project would cost more than $1.5 million when interest and other costs are included.
The Marshfield Utilities Commission and the Marshfield Common Council have given their support to increase the rate of return. If the higher rate of return is approved by the PSCW, the average residential bill for water consumption will increase less than $3.50 per month to about $31 — which includes the public fire protection charge — on a property valued at $100,000.