Eau Claire (WQOW)- After hearing from the public at Monday's meeting, a split Eau Claire City Council decided not to take a stance against Xcel Energy's proposed rate increase. At Tuesday's meeting, City Council voted 6-5 not to draft a letter to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission opposing the possible rate hike.
The proposal is a flat increase of $10 per month on residential utility bills, while dropping the rate for electricity used by 6 percent. It would come out to about $5 more per month for the typical customer.
Some council members fought for the letter, arguing that as a governing body, they might be able to sway the final decision.
Councilman Andrew Werthmann said they have received many comments from the public, encouraging the action to take place. We've taken stances on these sorts of public policies before as a body. In this case it's clear that there are plenty of residents, a majority of residents in our community, who care deeply about this issue and do want us to take a stand," said Werthmann.
One reason so many residents have opposed the increase is because they feel it disproportionately affects minority households. Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle said there are better ways to help these communities than by taking opposition to the Commission. "There's many meaningful strategies that people can take, that communities can take, to effectively work with communities of color to address heating and energy consumption," said Emmanuelle.
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission will vote on the rate increase in December, and if it passes it will go in to effect January First.