Would raising home electric rates save Iron Range jobs?

How much extra would you pay a month to keep mining jobs on the Iron Range?

It may end up being about $11 a month for customers of Minnesota Power, the Duluth News Tribune says.

The company has filed for a rate increase for residential customers, because it wants to cut the rates for mining companies, which are losing business to other parts of the globe.

“I understand a lot of people are going to be upset when they see that first bill. Personally, I’m not happy to see my bill go up at home. But there’s a greater good here. It’s the responsible thing to do,” Pat Mullen, Minnesota Power vice president of marketing and corporate communications, tells the News Tribune. “We have to do something before they fail. Once they close, it becomes so much harder to get these jobs back.”

He says in recent years the mines have paid more than their fair share.

Mining companies provide almost half of the utility’s revenue.

But Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, who sponsored a rate shift bill at the Capitol, is having second thoughts. He now says the proposal is too much of a shift to the homeowners on the Range.

At the heart of all of this is a world economic slowdown that’s dropped the price of ore to levels lower than the cost of pulling it out of the earth in Minnesota.

But other industries are likely to plead the same poverty. A spokesman for the Minnesota forest industry says his clients shouldn’t “subsidize” residential electric rates either. He says shifting expenses from paper mills to residential customers would save 300 Duluth-area jobs.

  • Gary F
  • Thomas Mercier

    Sounds like they’re trying to preserve their industrial customers because of the substantial capital they’ve invested in providing electricity to those customers and cloaking it as “saving jobs”. Then again I’m pretty cynical and maybe they are altruistic.

  • Jeff R.

    Roll back their tax breaks and subsidies and see how they react.

  • Kay milos

    People!! Do not fall for this! Pure n simple – the financial crisis facing local mines are from MISMANAGEMENT! I have listened to outraged workers for decades how $millions in equipment/inventory/subcontracts are needlessly spent, daily! If the CEO’s would each sell 1vacation home n pool that $$ into a ‘save our local jobs’ fund, they could callback workers, tighten up ridiculous mngment n accountabilities, compete in global markets n keep the light on BY PAYING THEIR OWN ELECTRIC BILLS!

  • lindblomeagles

    At the expense of sounding political, this is what American Democracy in the 21st Century looks and feels like. Corporations move their operations away from the US to take advantage of cheap labor, to avoid pollution laws, and to escape social responsibility, disdainfully called taxes, to communities and their workers in the United States. The rate hike will save jobs for about a year or two, but then some other excuse or a merger will take place forcing these same Iron Range jobs away anyway. Just ask former workers at the now defunct Ford Plant in Saint Paul. If I were an Iron Ranger, I’d make career change plans today. The will to severely penalize companies for chasing over seas luxuries isn’t there, and the American people still are not willing to call these energy sector big wigs on the carpet for what is generally price gouging.

    • Kay milos

      U R SO RIGHT!

  • Moffitt

    Minnesota Power is also in the middle of an effort to shift away from coal. I recently wrote an editorial for the Duluth News-Tribune encouraging them to do more.

  • Moffitt