Utah electric ratepayers will dig a little deeper to pay their power bills, following the approval of a $33.4 million rate hike for Rocky Mountain Power by the Utah Public Service Commission.

The 2.4 percent increase will cost the average residential customer approximately $16 per year, according to a commission news release Monday evening.

In December 2007, the utility requested an increase of $161.2 million or 11.3 percent. In March, the commission issued an order requiring the company to reduce its rate-increase request to $99.8 million.

The company reduced its rate-increase request again in May to $84.5 million and yet again in June to $74.4 million. But in its final order, the commission determined that the increase should only be $33.4 million.

Last month, the state's largest electric utility took the unusual step of making a second rate increase request of $160.6 million rate while the original request was still under review. The second hike would raise the typical residential customer's monthly power bill by 11.2 percent.

The Committee of Consumer Services, the state's utility watchdog group, criticized the move, calling the tactic "unfair and improper."

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