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.
WOODRUFF - The state will no longer use county-by-county rules to attempt to slow the spread of deadly emerald ash borer (EAB).
Next Friday, all of Wisconsin will be under an EAB quarantine. That means ash wood can now move freely around the state.
In the current system, individual counties are quarantined only if the tree pest was found there. The state restricted the movement of ash wood between infected counties and those free from EAB, trying to keep more areas "clean."
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