Commission delays approving electric rate increase

The Marquette City Commission decided to postpone approving the Marquette Board of Light and Power’s proposed electric rate increase at their meeting Monday night.

The Marquette Board of Light and Power recently proposed a 8.5% increase in electricity rates.

The commission approved delaying voting to approve the increase by a 5–2 vote.  By delaying the approval, it will allow businesses and residents an additional time to budget for the rate increases.

“It would basically delay the rate increase for 90 days,” Commissioner Mike Coyne said.  “You think, ‘well, that doesn’t sound like much’, but if you’re running an apartment complex or a university or a school district…that is the savings.  And, it also gives them time to consider how to do this, rather than 30 days from now.  Thirty days from now is pretty quick.”

“My opinion is that it should be approved (the rate increase),” Commissioner Don Ryan said.  Ryan and Commissioner Sara Cambensy were the two commissioners to vote ‘no’ on delaying the approval.  “I know no one likes a rate hike, but we have a strong and very good Board of Light and Power and municipal power plant.  It serves our community well.”

“If you’re going to keep it (the power plant) running, keep operating it efficiently, you have to pay the cost.  If we’re going to have a strong utility, if we’re going to keep it operating efficiently, then I think we have to allow them (The Marquette BLP) to say this is what we need and to prove that.”

Commissioner Ryan added that if the BLP had increased rates a few years ago, the board would not be asking for such a high rate increase now.

The commission will delay voting on the increase until the October 28 meeting, just before the new commission takes over.