Electric utilities statewide are planning rate hikes to upgrade infrastructure, and large businesses in Springfield are already feeling the pain with the recent heat wave. Springfield’s power provider, City Water Light and Power, raised its rates by 4.5 percent this fiscal year and will tack on another 2 percent next year. Dave Ryan, human resources director for Springfield’s Mel-O-Cream Donuts, is feeling the heat this summer as the electric bills keep rising.

“You hear [CWLP] say there’s no cost savings ever to be had,” he says. “I can’t believe they can’t find additional savings to be had, but that’s easy for me to say sitting in my air conditioned office looking out the window.”

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Mel-O-Cream’s 12,000 square foot freezer must be kept at five degrees below zero, which has been hard in 100 degree temperatures. Ryan says the rate hikes haven’t affected business that much so far, but it wasn’t this hot earlier in the year – and the company’s been slow to hire since the hike.

Another Springfield company, food distributor M.J. Kellner Co., says heat and CWLP rate hikes haven’t affected its bottom line so far.

“I don’t want to downplay it by any means, but to say it’s affecting us right now, no, but it has the potential to have a rather large impact on us as it continues to grow,” says Chief Operating Officer Dave Rikas.

Most Springfield power customers should get their “heat wave” bills within a couple of days, if they’ve not already. Power utilities statewide are allowed to raise rates to help recover the cost of infrastructure upgrades due to a new state law, and some already have.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/ www.AltonDailyNews.com)