Ericsson described the municipal electric utility as only a "distributor of power" and not a producer. He said that the city had to increase its rates partly due to the increased cost of electricity that Madison was billed from its suppliers -- the Western Area Power Administration and Heartland Consumers Power District.
According to Ericsson, the city electric utility wasn't itself generating many new expenses and thereby creating bills that needed payment.
"We're buying some capital things, but not a lot of things," Ericsson said [Chuck Clement, "City Moves on Utility Rate Hikes," Madison Daily Leader, 2010.11.09].
Come now, Commissioner Ericsson. How can you blame Russell Olson and all the nice people at Heartland? Instead of shifting blame, the city could Power Forward™ with some local energy production, if it would just listen to its creative neighbors and local entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, just how much will electricity bills rise in Madison?
In 2010, city electricity customers would pay about $105 per month for 1,200 kilowatt-hours of electrical power. With the rate increase, customers will pay about $114 for the same 1,200 kwh, an increase of $9 per month [Clement, 2010.11.09].
Quick comparison: Here at Madville Times World Headquarters, safely removed from the city limits of Madison on the western shore of freedom-loving Lake Herman, my family used an average of 1431 kilowatt-hours per month over the past year (minimum: 566 kWh from mid-September to mid-October of this year; maximum 3765 kWh during the December 2009–January 2010 billing cycle, including that cold Christmas blizzard). That's includes our heat, which is all electric. Average monthly bill with Sioux Valley Energy: $93.
More electricity, less cost. Ah, country living....
Water is cheaper in town, since the city has its own wells, while we Lake Herman denizens have our water piped in from Chester (or De Smet?) and support a network of 2200 miles of pipe. Hmm... have your own source, pay less... is that another argument for Madison to develop its own local power sources, or maybe even get gung ho like the Army and set a goal of energy self-sufficiency?
Update 2010.11.13 08:30 CST: General Manager Mike McDowell writes from Heartland Consumer Power District's new multi-million-dollar headquarters that Madison's increased electrical rates aren't Heartland's fault, either.