Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Rocky Mountain Power linemen work near Point of the Mountain Nov 2005.
While the price of electricity is still an excellent value, increases are necessary because of the need to comply with increasingly restrictive environmental requirements and expand the power plant and electric delivery systems that serve customers —Dave Eskelsen, RMP spokesman

SALT LAKE CITY — It could cost a bit more to power your home this year.

Rocky Mountain Power has requested a price hike in a proposal to the Public Service Commission of Utah for $172.3 million — an overall 9.7 percent increase in customer rates.

If approved, the proposed increase would translate to an additional $7.89 per month on a typical residential customer bill.

"The cost to meet the increasing electricity needs of customers in Utah continues to rise," RMP spokesman Dave Eskelsen said. "While the price of electricity is still an excellent value, increases are necessary because of the need to comply with increasingly restrictive environmental requirements and expand the power plant and electric delivery systems that serve customers."

He said nearly annual price increases are necessary to maintain safe and reliable electric service.

"We understand no one likes price increases, but the company is required to make the proper investments in time to ensure electric service is safe, reliable and in quantities that meet customer needs," Eskelsen said. "When we build anything, from the smallest neighborhood power line to our largest power plants and transmission lines, it’s only because our customers truly need it. We must be able to demonstrate to utility regulators that these decisions are prudent and the best deal for our customers."

The state's top consumer analyst said the rate hike request was expected, but the exact amount was not previously known.

"RMP has been pretty clear that their view is that costs are going up enough to justify a 5 to 10 percent annual rate increase," said Michele Beck, executive director of the Utah Office of Consumer Services. "Now it's the job of the regulators and intervenors to scrutinize the request to make sure every element is justified."

Beck said that based on past experience, her agency would likely recommend a smaller increase than the amount requested by the utility.

The review process is expected to take about eight months, so any increase granted by the commission would likely not take effect until at least October. In September of 2011, the utility received a $117 million hike that resolved several pending rate cases and increased rates about 4 percent, Eskelsen said.

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