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Alliant rates to rise Jan. 1
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MADISON - Alliant Energy's average residential customers will be paying about $8 more for electricity and natural gas beginning next month, according to an order the Public Service Commission issued Thursday.

Average electric rates will increase by $4.38, boosting a residential customer's monthly electric bill for 660 kilowatt hours from $87.61 to $91.98. Natural gas rates of 990 therms will be $56.54, up $3.50 per month over current rates.

"Even with this natural gas rate increase, natural gas base rates will still be lower than 2010 levels," Alliant spokesman Scott Reigstad said.

The new rates will go into effect on Jan. 1 and be reflected on bills mailed later that month, Reigstad said.

Alliant joins other state utilities in getting substantial increases from the PSC in the monthly electrical fixed charge.

"Increasing the fixed charge will raise bills for customers that use smaller amounts of electricity monthly, such as seniors, apartment-dwellers, and energy-conscious customers including those who have installed solar panels," Tyler Huebner, RENEW Wisconsin's Executive Director, said in a recent news release.

The monthly electric fixed charge has been in the $5 to $7 range since 1995. It was last increased in 2009 to $7.67, said Reigstad.

The residential monthly fixed rate for natural gas remains at $9.20.

Alliant's electric rates will increase .83 percent and gas rates by 5.76 percent based on a 10 percent rate of return on its infrastructure investment. It currently earns a 10.4 percent rate of return.

In May, Alliant sought electric and gas rates that would earn it a 12.8 percent return.

The PSC received more than 300 public comments on Alliant's rate request.

The new rates will earn increased revenue for upgrades to pollution controls at the Columbia Energy Center near Portage, natural gas pipeline expansion plus safety and reliability investments, Reigstad said.

Alliant said the increase in rates will also cover specific investments in the utility systems, including:

n Improvements in the environmental profile of Columbia Energy Center and Edgewater Generating Station.

n Continued safety and reliability investments.

n Expansion of pipeline infrastructure to help customers take advantage of low natural gas costs.

No additional revenue was authorized for a $250 million expansion underway at the Riverside Energy Center in the town of Beloit. That cost could be recovered in the next biennial rate request.

Alliant serves more than 480,000 electric customers and 180,000 natural gas customers cities in a service area that includes Monroe and reaches from Beloit to Fond du Lac.