Park County natural gas customers will be receiving a rate hike of 22-percent over a one-year period.
The Wyoming Public Service Commission held a public hearing to deliberate whether such a huge rate increase is in the public interest. Cody Mayor and residents asked Black Hills Energy to consider ways to ease the financial burden for fixed income or low-income residents. The energy company asked for the rate hike to help lower its debts and costs associated with improving the infrastructure in Northwest Wyoming. It hasn’t raised rates for 15 years.
During closing remarks, commissioner Robin Sessions Cooley acknowledged the concerns of the Park County community, but she said the dynamics at play here are complicated.
“Do you want more smaller increases over the years or one increase after a number of years that is larger and thus it's felt more significantly?” she said. “I don't know that one is more preferable over the other, but the commission has before it a company that hasn't had an increase in over 15 years, and it is time.”
Bill Russell, the commission chairman, said the energy company and the state need to inform the community on why residents will see such an increase on their next bill.
“When I say we, I don’t mean you. I mean all of us so I’d appreciate any of effort to go out help educate the people of Cody,” said Russell.
The members of the commission also asked Black Hills Energy to implement energy efficiency programs in Northwest Wyoming to help mitigate costs for residents.