Final approval of an electrical rate increase by the Wyoming Public Service Commission has come through. Rocky Mountain Power's request, while cut to about half of the original request, means the average customer will pay about $6.50 a month more.

"Even before we arrived at a consensus on this number our original request for a price increase dropped from what we had originally asked for in November. Changes to federal tax laws, reduced power costs, meant that we needed less."

Rocky Mountain Power spokesman, Jeff Hymas, says the increase takes effect on September 22nd of this year.

Rocky Mountain Power started with a request of nearly $98 million in November. An increase of $44.6 was approved Tuesday.

Wyoming customers have had three incremental increases over the last year. Earlier request for increases also started high and ended with approval of about half of the original request.

Hymas says the process of incremental rate hikes will continue into the future.

"Right now we have a lot of rising costs in order to serve the growing electricity use by our customers in Wyoming and,unfortunately, that means price increases will be needed not only this year but in the future as well. We anticipate having to ask for increases every year for the next eight to ten years or so."

Infrastructure costs and increased cost of coal to run power plants are some of the reason Hymas sites.

Part of the current agreement includes clear time-lines as to when infrastructure upgrades for the Casper/Natrona county area will be completed. During public hearings the utility took lots of heat regarding lack of reliability.

"A lot of the outages that have occurred in recent years have been actually related to upgrades that have been underway and will continue. We have multi-year projects in place to keep up with the growth in the Casper area."

Hymas says, because of those ongoing projects, outages occur. He likens it to roadwork and the bumps that happen during construction.

He says the company will work closely with the community so that customers know what's happening and when.