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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Rocky Mountain Power 30% rate hike hearing in Casper Thursday

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Monday, October 9, 2023   

The Wyoming Public Service Commission, the agency that regulates utility companies, is holding a public hearing this Thursday in Casper seeking public comments on Rocky Mountain Power's proposal to increase rates by nearly 30%.

Andrew Schneider is the operations director for the The Wyoming Arts Alliance, and serves on the board for the Nicolaysen Art Museum. He said the museum's current utility bill is already equal to the cost of one full-time employee.

"Now if we get this rate increase - close to 30%," said Schneider, "we're in a position, like I would imagine many nonprofits with facilities, of looking at making really hard decisions."

The hearing starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Thyra Thomson State Office Building.

Rocky Mountain Power's proposal - which also puts customers on the hook for 100% of any fuel cost overruns, and locks in profits above 10% - has produced a wide range of critics and misinformation.

Some lawmakers have claimed, without evidence, that higher rates are due to renewable energy.

Rocky Mountain Power recently sent an email to its customers with documentation hoping to set the record straight. Without new wind resources, for example, rates would have increased an additional 60% in Wyoming.

Schneider explained that the company is not raising rates due to an overload of wind and solar, but because natural gas and coal prices are highly volatile.

"And the facts are that renewables on the grid save tens of millions of dollars for Rocky Mountain Power's ratepayers," said Schneider. "Putting renewables onto Rocky Mountain Power's grid is going to stabilize these prices, and bring the rates down."

The Public Service Commission will accept written comments from ratepayers until October 25.

Schneider encouraged people to bypass the political spin, and make sure that the commission hears how higher rates will impact Wyoming residents.

"People need to get involved while you still have a chance to do that this month," said Schneider. "And folks need to just focus on the way this is going to impact you, and your family, and your businesses, and your community."




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