Otter Tail files for an electric rate increase -- the first in 10 years

Nov 3, 2017

Public Service Commissioners Brian Kroshus (I); Commission chairman Randy Christmann; and Julie Fedorchak.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Public Service Commission hasn’t yet had a chance to look at Otter Tail Power Company’s proposed electric rate increase.

It would be its first increase in 10 years. And the paperwork was filed this week.

"They're looking for $13.1 million," Commissioner Brian Kroshus said. "That would be an 8.7% increase. It's definitely a sizable request."

The utility said it means an average residential customer would see their monthly bills go up by $11.50. For business customers, the increase would be about $22 a month.

"I think when you see a number that big, it's hard not to be a little surprised," Kroshus said. "But it's premature to formulate an opinion."

Kroshus said the Commission will be digging into the numbers and the rationale for the increase.

"And it has to be more than the fact taht it's been more than a decade," Kroshus said.

Otter Tail said one of the reasons it needs the increase is to pay for more emissions controls at its Big Stone power plant in South Dakota.

Kroshus said Otter Tail is currently the least cost power provider among the utilities the PSC regulates.

Under North Dakota law, a utility is entitled to an interim rate increase, while the PSC works on the case. That’s yet to be determined.