I expected that there would be an increase, but I didn't plan for this in the budget. I recently saw my upcoming automatic payment was scheduled, but it wasn't the normal amount I've been paying for the last few years. It was over $100 more!

This was a very unpleasant surprise especially because we've been working on being more energy efficient and haven't used more gas or electricity this year compared to last. So what's with the huge price jump?

Changes were made to the energy rates last year, and they became effective on January 1st, 2023. According to Superior Water Light & Power's website, natural gas rates increased by 7.3%, electric rates went up by 2.7%, and water rates went down by 6.4%.

Explosion Reported At Husky Oil Refinery In Superior, Wisconsin
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SWLP offers a budget plan for its customers and based on your utility bill history, they can give you a bill that you pay the same amount each month. It's easier to budget for. However, in instances like this, they've recalculated the budget plan because of the rate increase. It left me with a bit of sticker shock.

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My monthly bill was previously $290 a month. I opened up my bill this time and saw that I was now paying $411 a month. That's $121 more a month. That's a significant amount. My math comes out to a 14% increase in my bill. Much of that can be attributed to the higher rates for natural gas which would affect my household more than the changes to electricity and any savings used on water.

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The rate changes were approved by the Public Service Commission Of Wisconsin. The last time rates were increased was back in 2019.

Water rates have been lowered now because water sales are expected to increase. The shutdown following the Superior Refinery Fire affected water usage greatly, as they are the biggest customer of SWLP.

Explosion Reported At Husky Oil Refinery In Superior, Wisconsin
Getty Images

Why are the rate changes taking place? Here is an excerpt directly from the SWLP website:

In order to maintain safe and reliable operations, SWL&P must continuously re-invest in its infrastructure. This rate proceeding includes reliability updates at Company substations, upgrades to the natural gas distribution system, and other routine projects. SWL&P makes upgrades to utility infrastructure to ensure safe and reliable delivery of electric, gas and water services for many years in the future.

.SWLP also provides tips on how to offset the cost by conserving energy and water. They encourage you to sign up for MyAccount and track your usage to identify any problems, like a leaky toilet. That can cause a huge water bill increase and is inexpensive to fix.

As the seasons change and kids head back to school, you may want to keep an eye on your energy bills. Looks like we'll be making some cuts to our budget this fall.

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