MDU, Otter Tail customers could see higher electric bills

Apr 28, 2014

MDU and Otter Tail Power Company customers could see their monthly electric bills go up to pay for pollution control equipment being installed at the Big Stone power plant in northeast South Dakota.

The plant is adding scrubbers and other equipment to comply with new EPA guidelines.

"The initial budget for the project was $489 million," said North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "With this filing, the estimate is now $384 million. It's a 20 percent total decrease."

Fedorchak says Otter Tail customers are already paying an average of $3.61 per month to cover the cost. She says the utility wants to raise that to $6.57 per month. Fedorchak says for MDU electric customers, the charge on the monthly bill would rise from an average of $2.03 to $4.63. She says there is an opportunity for a hearing on those proposed charges – but the hearing has to be requested by May 30th.

Meanwhile, the

Public Service Commission will hold a hearing on MDU’s proposal to add a charge to customer bills to recover the cost of the new natural gas turbine at its Heskett power plant north of Mandan.

The turbine is scheduled to come on-line in July. Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says the cost of the turbine is $76.1 million – which is about 11 percent less than projected.

"Customers would pay an average of $362 per month, if the Commission approves the rider," said Fedorchak.

The hearing will be held May 28th.