Would raising home electric rates save Iron Range jobs?

How much extra would you pay a month to keep mining jobs on the Iron Range?

It may end up being about $11 a month for customers of Minnesota Power, the Duluth News Tribune says.

The company has filed for a rate increase for residential customers, because it wants to cut the rates for mining companies, which are losing business to other parts of the globe.

“I understand a lot of people are going to be upset when they see that first bill. Personally, I’m not happy to see my bill go up at home. But there’s a greater good here. It’s the responsible thing to do,” Pat Mullen, Minnesota Power vice president of marketing and corporate communications, tells the News Tribune. “We have to do something before they fail. Once they close, it becomes so much harder to get these jobs back.”

He says in recent years the mines have paid more than their fair share.

Mining companies provide almost half of the utility’s revenue.

But Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, who sponsored a rate shift bill at the Capitol, is having second thoughts. He now says the proposal is too much of a shift to the homeowners on the Range.

At the heart of all of this is a world economic slowdown that’s dropped the price of ore to levels lower than the cost of pulling it out of the earth in Minnesota.

But other industries are likely to plead the same poverty. A spokesman for the Minnesota forest industry says his clients shouldn’t “subsidize” residential electric rates either. He says shifting expenses from paper mills to residential customers would save 300 Duluth-area jobs.