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Rocky Mountain Power is requesting two rate hikes of almost 30 percent 

Rocky Mountain Power

A major electric utility in the state is proposing rate hikes for customers – potentially increasing by almost 30 percent – and at a recent meeting the public was extremely opposed.

The Wyoming Public Service Commission [WPSC], which oversees public utilities in the state, recently held a meeting in Rock Springs regarding Rocky Mountain Power’s proposed rate hikes to its 150,000 Wyoming customers.

The electric utility says fossil fuel prices and extreme weather are erratic and costly, and they are asking the state to approve two rate hikes of almost 30 percent to account for the costs.

“We are seeing some unprecedented prices in the open market,” said Stacy Splittstoesser, who represented Rocky Mountain Power at the meeting. “We don't have enough generation to supply all of our customers with power, so we have to purchase it on the open market.”

Customers emotionally testified at the meeting, and all were opposed. Toni Bate of Rock Springs said this could amount to almost $90/month extra for her.

“I have hardly any money. I don't know where I'm gonna get the money to pay this. I just can’t do this,” Bate said with tears.

Unless Rocky Mountain Power customers opt for something like solar – the utility is their only utility option. If a customer cannot pay, eventually their electricity would go out.

Sam Shumway, state director for the AARP Wyoming, said many of his members are Rocky Mountain Power customers, and that this kind of rate increase could be devastating. He said he understands the need for an increase, but feels this request is exaggerated.

“We want to know where they're spending these dollars we want and we want to know exactly, it's, I will say this it's impossible to 100% accurately project, what fuel costs will do what the cost of coal what the cost of natural gas will do,” Shumway said. “But we feel like that they overestimate that and collect more rates than they actually need. We want to know if that happens, how they're actually going to give those back to the consumer.”

The first increase of almost 8 percent actually went into effect this month on an interim basis, but could still be reversed by the WPSC. The agency is also reviewing the almost 20 percent increase, if approved it will go into effect January 1st.

To stay updated on the increases, follow along with the WPSC. Additionally, Shumway said people can text ‘join’ to 22777 for information on the hikes from the AARP.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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