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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Rochester Public Utilities Board today approved a new budget for next year that includes water and electric rate increases.

After freezing the rates for two years to help businesses and residential customers cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, RPU staff initially recommended raising electric rates by 2.5 percent in 2022. A decision by RPU’s power wholesaler, the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, to provide the municipal utility with a cash distribution next year, prompted staff to reduce the recommended rate increase to 1.5 percent. RPU staff estimates that would add just under $2.30 to the average monthly residential electric bill.

The water rate increase approved by the RPU Board today remained at the 2.5 percent level that was originally recommended by staff. It’s estimated the rate hike will increase an average residential customer’s monthly charge by about 60 cents.

CSJ/TSM-Rochester

The new budget also includes implementing an “opt-out” policy for RPU’s Service Assured Program. It will add $1.99 a month to all residential customer bills while providing coverage for the repairs of potential water line failures between the street and the customer’s homes. Any customer wishing to skip the coverage will need to contact RPU to decline it.

The Rochester City Council is expected to act on the RPU budget and rate increases next month. If approved, the rate increases and charge for the insurance program will take effect on January 1.

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Wow! Check out how Rochester has changed throughout the years in these Google photos.

As we are soaring down Hwy 52, it is hard to imagine what life was like in our town before the Target store was built where it is today. Or the house that you live in now, at one point in town, that wasn't there. In fact, Rochester has grown so fast throughout the years, most of our houses weren't even around 50 years ago! Don't believe me? Look through these photos to get a glimpse of what Rochester was like years ago.