Many Minnesota Power customers argued against a proposed 9.5 percent rate increase during a hearing in Duluth Thursday.
The actual increase could top 40 percent for some very low income customers.
Dennis Soave spoke against the rate hike, saying the bulk of the increase would fall on the lowest income customers.
"This area is an economically distressed area. It has been for years. When somebody says we're going into a recession, I think we've been in one since I moved here in 1973," Soave said.
Some business leaders spoke in favor of the increase, citing Minnesota Power's efforts to attract and support business expansion.
However, Attorney General Lori Swanson came out last week against the increase. An Administrative law judge is now taking public testimony, with the Public Utilities Commission expected to act on the request next April.