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Electric Division budget OK'd

The Board of Public Utilities this week approved a 2007 budget for its Electric Division that includes $38.7 million for operating and capital expenses.

The spending plan, which includes about $37 million in anticipated revenue, factors in a 4.2 percent rate increase during the second year of increases planned over three years, Public Utilities Board General Manager Wally Haase said. The rate hike took effect Nov. 1.

"We're projecting our operating expenses to be about $33.4 million, and our capital budget $5.3 million, which is a little lower then usual. We usually spend about $6 million," said Haase, who described the budget as "tight."

On another matter, the board is extending the public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed clean-coal plant to Jan. 19.

The environmental study already has been the subject of two public meetings and a public comment period of 58 days. The study, first issued in October, describes the environmental benefits of the project, including reduced emissions.

Haase said the extension will provide the public "with an additional opportunity to provide comment" on environmental study.

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