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Thursday, January 9,2014

BWL cancels rate increase

Board vice chairman tells City Pulse it would be ‘disingenuous’ to ask for one

by Andy Balaskovitz

Thursday, Jan. 9 — The Lansing Board of Water and Light has canceled plans for proposed utility rate increases that were set to take effect on March 1.


Dennis Louney, vice chairman of the BWL Board of Commissioners, said on a taping of “City Pulse Newsmakers” today that a rate increase wouldn’t reflect well upon the utility as it faces criticism over its handling of last month’s ice storm.


“We need to make sure we know what happened (during the restoration) and what’s going on here before we even look at a rate increase,” he said. “That would be so disingenuous to our customers. I asked we get rid of the whole discussion and wait until a later time to even examine that.”


Louney appeared on the show with Lansing City Councilwoman Carol Wood.


“I agree with Dennis that needs to wait,” she said.


The show airs at 9 a.m. Sunday on MY18-TV.


Today BWL issued a notification canceling a Jan. 23 public hearing on the proposed increase.


The increase would affect electric, water, steam and chilled water customers. According to documents placed on file with the City Clerk’s Office, it would raise over $18 million in billings.


They would have varying effects on customer bills, depending on usage. For example, residential customers using 500 kilowatts per hour who have a monthly bill of $70.63 would see a $2.45 a month increase. Residents whose monthly electricity bill is $132.30 would increase $4.80.

BWL Spokesman Steve Serkaian said the proposed increase is "in part" to offset millions of dollars more the utility has given the city of Lansing in lieu of taxes.

"The Board wanted to allow the different investigations (to) get underway, so the rate hearing has been put on hold indefinitely," Serkaian said in an email.

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