Naperville residents to see 3 years of electric rate increases

Naperville residents, get ready for electric rate increases each of the next three years.

This year's increase is the largest at 8.3 percent and will kick in Feb. 1 after council members approved it Tuesday night in an 8-1 vote.

Increases on Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 1, 2018 will depend on whether a customer has a residential, small commercial or large commercial electric account. For residential accounts, the increases will be 3.6 percent each year.

The increases are part of what city officials call a "measured approach" to improving the finances of the electric utility. The utility has been losing money in recent years under a power supply contract with the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency because of higher prices for power, lower-than-expected electric use and cost overruns at one of the plants that supplies the city.

In 2014, the electric utility took out a $13.2 million loan from the water utility, which it will begin paying back this year using $3 million in revenue from the higher rates.

Despite the money needs of the electric utility, council member Patty Gustin said she thinks the rate increases are too high. She cast the only vote against the new rates, which come after the city increased garbage fees and started charging a home-rule sales tax for the first time, setting the rate at 0.5 percent.

"I'm looking more for some flexibility, a little bit more relief for the residents," Gustin said. "An 8.3 percent increase in 2016 approximately is a rough thing to swallow, particularly after we just did the garbage rate (and) we just did the sales tax."

For the average resident who has a $103.75 monthly bill, this year's increase will be about $8.30 a month.

Electric bills also will come with an automatic rate adjustment, which will change the price every month based on a six-month rolling average of whether the city's cost of providing electricity was above or below a base rate. And part of the power cost will shift to the fixed "customer charge" portion of the bill.

Each year, residents will pay $1.50 more each month and commercial customers will pay $3 more each month on the customer charge.

Following this year's across-the-board 8.3 percent rate increase, small commercial customers will see increases of 3.7 percent in 2017 and 3.6 in 2018, while large commercial bills will rise by 0.8 percent each year.

How much will electric rates rise in Naperville?

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