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Mountain West residents pinched as power companies raise rates

Paul L Dineen
Flickr Creative Commons

News brief: 

Some of the largest utility companies in the Mountain West are increasing electricity rates as they grapple with inflationary pressures and weather disruptions.

Rocky Mountain Power, Wyoming’s largest electric utility, is asking the state to increase rates by an average of 7.6%. That means residential customers would see their bills go up by an average of $3.52 every month. Idaho Power is proposing a double-digit rate increase, and multiple Utah companies have also raised prices this year.

Tyler Hodge, an economist with the Energy Information Administration, said electricity has been getting more expensive around the country recently.

“Specifically, last year, we did see some of the largest increases in recent memory, and a lot of that was mainly due to just general increases in overall fuel costs,” he said.

Energy rates have also gone up in New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Montana. Hodge said rising energy prices, general inflation and extreme weather and temperature swings lead to higher operation costs for many utilities – who then pass the burden onto customers.

However, Hodge said people could start seeing some relief soon. Natural gas prices, for instance, have fallen.

“Even though we do expect increases in residential prices this year, we are saying eventually the prices should come back down,” Hodge said.

But for now, many households are struggling with high bills. In Colorado, protesters called on lawmakers to take action regarding rising energy rates, and legislators introduced a bill to protect residents from future cost spikes. In New Mexico, legislation to give low-income folks cheaper utility rates passed the state Senate but didn't reach the governor's desk.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2023 Wyoming Public Radio. To see more, visit Wyoming Public Radio.

Will Walkey