PUEBLO — The Public Utilities Commission will take public comment in Pueblo Thursday, Oct. 12, on a proposal by Black Hills Energy, according to a news release issued by the commission. The proposal is “to implement a new rate design that includes inclining block energy charges, or tiered rates, for residential customers with monthly usage above 500 kilowatt-hours, and higher monthly customer charges for some residential customers, including those under solar net-metering.”

The public comment hearing will begin at 4 p.m. at the Colorado State Fairgrounds, 4-H Auditorium, 1001 Beulah Ave. The hearing will conclude no later than 8 p.m.

“The PUC directed Black Hills to file a ‘phase II’ rate proposal in its decision approving a $636,237 base rate increase effective on Jan. 1,” the release states. “A phase II proposal does not increase the annual revenues of a company, but changes how its costs are spread between customer classes.”

Under the proposed new rate design, typical residential bills would increase by $2.41 per month (2.5 percent) based on an average use of 600 kilowatt-hours, according to the commission. Typical small business customer bills would decrease by $48.77 per month (13.3 percent) based on an average use of 2,300 kWh per month.

The release said that under the proposed tiered rate plan, residential customers using 500 kWh per month would not see a change in monthly bills. Residential customers using 1,200 kWh per month would see bill increases of 9.57 percent.

“For residential net-metered solar customers, Black Hills is proposing both higher fixed customer charges and a higher energy charge resulting in an increase of about 50 percent,” the release states. “The company states that since its last phase II electric rate case in 2012, the number of net metered customers has increased by 400 percent and its costs to serve these customers has increased by 140 percent.”

The proposal seeks to lower demand rates for commercial customers, implement a new voluntary time-of-use pilot for small commercial customers and to make permanent a time-of-use rate option for large customers. The commission expects to make a decision on the proposal by March.

Customers unable to attend the hearing may submit written comments about the rate proposal electronically to dora_puc_complaints@state.co.us, or use the PUC’s on-line comment form. Comments also can be mailed to the PUC, 1560 Broadway, Suite 250, Denver, CO 80202.