Wisconsin utility watchdog warns against customer rate hikes 

A consumer watchdog has issued a warning as several investor-owned utilities across the state seek to raise customer rates, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB), a nonprofit in operation since 1980, cautioned that the electricity and gas rate hikes proposed by Alliant Energy, Madison Gas and Electric, We Energies, and Xcel Energy could heighten profit margins further beyond nationwide averages.

The companies have said the higher rates would help fuel renewable energy projects, but the CUB maintains that the companies’ shareholders stand to reap the primary benefits.

Alliant, it says, would shift its finances to raise more money through stockholders instead of borrowing to save costs. Xcel would aim to raise its profit rate by 10.25%, exceeding the national average of 9.6%.

Alliant officials assert that customer rate hikes now are an investment in a strong energy future and will offset further costs down the road.