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Urbana Plans to Fight Utility Rate Hikes

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing delivered a report at last night’s Urbana City Council meeting, outlining a potential future increase in utility rates for Champaign County residents unless efforts from area cities to fight the rate hikes from Illinois American Water and AmerenIP are successful.

According to Prussing, the water company said the 60 percent increase does not include the total cost of the new water facility on West Bradley Avenue in Champaign and that the company may want to increase rates in the future.

Currently, the cities of Urbana and Champaign along with Savoy, Philo, Sydney and St. Joseph are spending $65,000 collectively to go up in front of the Illinois Commerce Commission to try and save $8 million for Champaign County customers.

“We have to weigh what our options are because we can’t just accept this as inevitable because there are some options and we need to study them,” Prussing says. “I’ve talked with some council members in Champaign and I think the two cities should get together and figure out some possible alternatives.”

As for AmerenIP’s raised rates, the high prices for electricity could cost Urbana an extra $100,000 a year for streetlights. At next week’s meeting, Urbana City Council will vote on spending $17,000 to join the protest against increases alongside other middling-sized Illinois cities to fight the electricity rate increase.

“We have higher than average water rates. Our rates are higher than publicly owned systems, and our electric rates also are higher,” Prussing says. “Both of those together are a drag on our economic growth.”

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