RPU approves three electricity rate hikes for the next three yea - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

RPU approves three electricity rate hikes for the next three years

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Rochester Public Utility board members approved three rate increases Tuesday for electricity for the next three years.  Next year, the cost of electric power from RPU will jump 3.5 percent.  In 2016, it will rise another 1.7 percent, and in 2017, another 1.7 percent.

"Three and a half percent was what we thought was needed to move us in the right direction," said RPU board member, Dave Reichert, about the first increase. "Our cash reserves are starting to fall lower than they should be."

That's because between the years of 2011 and 2013, RPU didn't administer any rate increases for customers.

"We felt that was the right thing to do," said Reichert. "The utility did its best to hold costs down, and not make increases during financial times that weren't very good for us or our customers."

Although customers will see the numbers rise on their bill, the possibility exists that the board could revisit the decision.

"We withhold the right, if you will, to make changes as we need to in those coming years," explained Reichert. "One of the things we'll be considering is the impact on conservation."

Reichert said the incremental plan over three years is not meant to surprise customers, but to help them plan for the future.

Board members also approved a new health care plan for employees Tuesday, which will now include a wellness plan, preventive care, the choice between a basic plan and a high deductible plan, and more tiers for premium rates.

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