To the Journal editor:
In case you haven't heard, the Upper Peninsula Power Co. (wants) another rate increase for 2014 (this time 8.1 percent). If approved, this will be the third rate increase they've received in just the last 5 years, and would mean another $120 added to the average annual household electric bill.
UPPCO customers already pay the highest electric rates of anyone in Michigan - 19.55 cents per kilowatt hour, versus a statewide average for all utilities of 14.37 cents. When you look at how UPPCO rates compare to rates from other electric companies across the midwest and across the nation, it gets even worse.
The nationwide average is 11.92 cents per kilowatt hour. Minnesota electric customers pay an average of 11.58; Illinois electric customers pay an average of 10.58. UPPCO customers are already paying a whopping 64 percent more for electricity than the average electric customer in the USA - and they want another rate increase!
And what is UPPCO's reason for needing this latest rate increase request? The same reasons they've used to justify the last several rate increases - higher costs to maintain their hydroelectric facilities, higher costs for tree trimming, and "general inflation."
Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could simply go to their boss and demand a raise of 8.1 percent (or higher) every time their household costs go up? That's basically what UPPCO has been doing, and guess what the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approves their request every time. MPSC are supposed to be the regulators that are looking out for the consumer, yet in this state they are nothing more than a rubber stamp for whatever utilities like UPPCO want to charge their customers. Instead of telling UPPCO to go back and get their costs under control (which is what they should do), MPSC simply approves whatever UPPCO wants to charge us. This is not how the system is supposed to work, folks!
I will be writing to MPSC (again) to urge them to deny this latest UPPCO rate increase request. I encourage others to do the same. You can also go online and file a complaint with MPSC if you choose to do so.
At some point, these continual rate increases have to stop, or none of us will be able to afford basic electrical service.