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Public hearing on historic electric rate hike set for Aug. 24 in Casper

Rocky Mountain Power, the state's largest electric utility, is proposing to raise its energy rates by 29.2%.

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CASPER, Wyo. — Rocky Mountain Power, the state’s largest electric utility, is proposing to raise its energy rates by 29.2%.

A hearing on the matter, including an opportunity for public comment, will take place before the Wyoming Public Service Commission in Casper on Aug. 24 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Roundhouse Conference Room 3024 in the Thyra Thomson State Office Building, 444 W. Collins Drive.

Economic development leaders in Natrona County are worried about the adverse impact Rocky Mountain Power’s proposed historic rate increase could have on local businesses. 

Advance Casper CEO Justin Farley said he believes people, including representatives from big companies, will pack the public hearing. He made that statement during an Aug. 15 Natrona County-City of Casper Economic Development Joint Powers Board meeting.

“It’ll be a rodeo,” Farley said. “It’ll be good.”

Rocky Mountain Power wants to hike prices by nearly 22%, a request that’s primarily driven by volatile natural gas and coal markets, according to the company.

It’s the largest rate increase request the regulated-monopoly utility has made in more than a decade, and it would result in an additional $16.42 per month for the average household customer, according to the company.

Rocky Mountain Power is proposing a 7.6% temporary true-up increase along with the 21.6% base rate. How the rate hike will affect monthly bills differs between residential, business, agricultural and industrial customers. Combined, the average household customer’s monthly bill would increase by $19.94, the company estimates.

At the Tuesday joint powers board meeting, members talked briefly about challenges the requested rate increase would present for local businesses and addressed a likelihood many companies will find a way for customers to pay for the higher energy price.

Board member Amber Pollock, representing the City of Casper, is an owner of Backwards Distilling Company.

She said not every business can pass on that expense, and her business would have to absorb the cost. 

“For small businesses to compete with large businesses, we can’t pass all increases onto customers,” she said. “We don’t have that economy of scale.”

Noting that 90% of Wyoming’s power is sold to other states, Natrona County Commissioner David North said he has a hard time with the people of Wyoming bearing the cost of exported energy.

If approved as proposed, the new rates — which vary between residential, business, agricultural and industrial customers — would take effect Jan. 1. The increase would generate an extra $140.2 million per year for RMP, which is part of the larger northwest power company PacifiCorp.

According to the public notice, anyone interested may be heard in person, by video or by telephone conference. Attend by Zoom meeting and participate at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9933449233. Attend by telephone and participate by dialing 1-669-900-9128 or 1-253-215-8782 (Meeting ID: 993 344 9233).


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