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Discounted electric rates approved for boat maker to keep company here


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s utility regulators approved a discount Thursday on Mercury Marine’s electric rates.

Wisconsin Power-and-Light offered the discounts to the Fond du Lac industry as part of a pilot program. And it was part of $120-million in state-and-local incentives to stop Mercury Marine from moving its outboard motor factory to Oklahoma a couple years ago.

The state’s Public Service Commission okayed the electric discounts, but it left open the question of who should pay for them.

For now, the utility’s stockholders will cover the discounts. But the commission said it would consider making other customers pay for Mercury Marine’s price break when the utility’s request for a 2013 rate increase is considered next year.

Commission members said the discounts were important – and they noted that utility customers would pay even more to fill the void had Mercury Marine left Wisconsin.

Just yesterday, Governor Scott Walker unveiled a bill to allow discounts on electricity for new-and-expanding industries.

Critics called it a hidden fee on residents and small businesses which would pay higher bills to cover those discounts. But according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the bill’s supporters say the measure is being re-written to address that concern.