LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) - It's been three years since the Lansing Board of Water & Light has made any sort of rate increase and now the company says it's time to make a change.
The BWL came up with a "three-year rate strategy" for its customers and on Thursday night that plan was discussed during a public hearing.
These changes haven't been approved yet; in fact the rate proposals are still being discussed.
To give you a perspective of what the numbers will look like, here's a breakdown:
3.9 percent residential increase in 2018, 2019 and 2020 - average $3.16 per month/year one.
5.5 percent residential increase in 2018 and 7.5 percent increase in 2019 and 2020 - average $2.29 per month/year one.
5.5 percent increase in 2018 and 7.5 percent increase in 2019 and 2020 - average $172.90 per month/year one.
With that being said, customers say they're not too thrilled to hear more money may soon be coming out of their wallets.
"I don't feel that this increase is fair," said BWL customer Maria George.
"We cannot afford to have continued rate increases," BWL customer Linda Appling stated.
"They're not taking care of the people like they should, they need to find another way," said BWL customer Kimberly Sewell.
Frustration filled the room as Lansing Board of Water & Light customers expressed their concerns about a proposed rate hike in their bill that could happen in the next few months.
"They pass out these 'save energy, save money'...I don't understand...if they're increasing, how do they think you're going to save money?" Sewell stated.
The Lansing Board of Water & Light says the proposed "three-year strategy" plan will allow BWL to further its efforts in creating renewable energy.
"It's come to a point where we need to replace our Eckert Coal Plant and the strategy moving forward to build a new combined cycle plant, we need to bond for that and we need show that we have the means to pay that bonding back and that's what this is all about," said BWL General Manager Dick Peffley.
Peffley says while the company takes into consideration that the rising rates may affect those on fixed incomes, he says the increase is necessary.
"We're going to have 30 percent cleaner energy by 2020 and 40 percent by 2030," Peffley stated.
It's an aggressive goal and one customers including Appling and George understand, but still don't agree with. "There has to be some recognition that there's only so much that the public, that the residential consumer can absorb," said Appling.
"I don't feel that there should be no increase, I don't care if they haven't had an increase in 3 or 4 years…I don't feel that they should do anything," George added.
A special BWL Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 5th to consider these rate recommendations.
If approved, the new rates will go into effect on February 1st of next year and then at the same time the following two years.
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