The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Danika Wor­thing­ton

The Colorado Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion on Wed­nes­day slashed 85 per­cent from Black Hills En­ergy’s re­quest to in­crease elec­tric­ity rates.

The util­ity was seek­ing an $8.5 mil­lion an­nual in­crease, but the hike will likely be less than $2 mil­lion. Fi­nal rates won’t be deter­mined un­til a tech­ni­cal con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day.

Rapid City, S.D.-based Black Hills asked for the rate in­crease in May to help re­cover the cost of a new gas-fired gen­er­a­tion unit at the Pue­blo Air­port Gen­er­at­ing Sta­tion that re­placed a coal-fired plant in Cañon City. The Cañon City unit was closed to com­ply with Colorado’s Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act.

If the PUC had OK’d Black Hills’ pro­posal, a res­i­den­tial cus­tomer’s bill would have in­creased by $4.99. Since 2008, the util­ity has in­creased av­er­age res­i­den­tial cus­tomers’ bills by 58 per­cent. It serves 94,000 cus­tomers in Pue­blo, Cañon City and other parts of south­ern Colorado.

The PUC said the util­ity com­pany was within its rights to build the re­place­ment plant. But the com­mis­sion said it was dis­ap­pointed that Black Hills did not pur­sue a cheaper op­tion.

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