AARP has filed with the Public Service Commission to formally intervene in the latest Montana Dakota Utilities Company’s natural gas rate increase.
"This is the third natural gas rate increase for MDU in the last 4 years," said AARP state president Josh Askvig.
MDU is asking to raise its rates by 5.4 percent. That would mean $5.9 million. MDU will do this by raising the fixed rate cost – the cost charged just to bring the natural gas to the home. It would bring that cost to $22.58 a month. Askvig said four years ago, the charge was $9 a month.
"That's too much," Askvig said.
Intervenor status means AARP would have its own attorneys at the formal hearings, and it would be able to present its own evidence.
"When they have the formal hearing before the Commission in February, we can be there to represent the consumer's voice," Askvig said. "We will try to make sure that the PSC, as it evaluates the proposal, understand the effect it will have on consumers, and find ways to mitigate that."
Askvig said this kind of rate increase will hit lower income people and the elderly very hard.
Public input sessions on the rate increase are scheduled next Tuesday and Wednesday in Bismarck, Minot, Dickinson, Williston, Devils Lake and Valley City.