ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - You probably turned up the heat this winter. And you may not have thought how that could impact your bill in years to come. But utility companies estimate future rate increases due to previous usage. And that could mean bigger bills in the future.
Wisconsin Public Service is proposing an increase on utility rates. Rates have remained relatively stable over the past five years. But the increase would have an effect.
"That would really only equate to a dollar, over the last six years, a dollar per month increase. Overall, electric rates are staying fairly stable," says Leah Van Zile, WPS Community Relations.
WPS has proposed the increase based off estimates of what costs will be in the future. In past years, over estimates means customers actually saved money.
"That has resulted in very, very minimal impacts, if any. For example, residential customers, they have only seen a less than a one half percent [increase] over the last five years. And actually, natural gas prices have gone down," says Van Zile.
But the increase isn't set in stone yet. It's a long process to before you'll see a change in your utility bill.
"Because of how the process works, it's really an eighteen month process from start of planning what we might do to what the actual decision is," says Van Zile.
In fact, just last year a rate increase was proposed. But rates never rose. If WPS does raise the rates, you won't notice until your January bill.
WPS announced today it has filed a request for a rate increase with state regulators.
It is asking for a 7.4 percent bump in electric rates starting next year.
A 5.6 percent increase is in the works for natural gas.
WPS says the company's electric rates have been relatively flat in recent years, and that gas rates have actually fallen.
It will be up to the state public service commission to decide what rate increase will be allowed, if any.
RHINELANDER - A snow storm caught Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander off guard last weekend and collapsed a greenhouse. Now that spring weather is here, Hanson's is ready to move forward by making some adjustments. "We got by for 25 years doing what we were doing," said Hanson's Garden Village Co-owner Brent Hanson. Last weekend's spring snow storm set back Hanson's. "We thought we were ahead of schedule having that greenhouse nice and filled," said Hanson's Manager Beth Hanson.
"One bad storm and there you go. Things happen," said Brent. The storm collapsed a greenhouse holding thousands of plants. "For years we've gotten by with these lighter cheaper green houses," said Brent. "We'll be down a greenhouse for a little bit here," said Beth. Now Hanson's will only use sturdier and solid greenhouses so that collapses don't become a pattern.
RHINELANDER - Oneida County needs more foster care homes. Right now, there are nine licensed foster homes in the area, most of which are full according to the county's social services department.
Foster Care Coordinator Rachel Nelson says that in Oneida County there are 24 children currently living in foster homes. The department participated in a statewide foster care recruitment project last fall, and discovered just how great the need is.
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