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Public Service Commissioner hopes investigation of the February natural gas price spikes leads to change

North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus is hoping investigations into the natural gas price spikes during a February cold spell in Texas and other parts of the southwestern US will lead to some changes that could prevent those price swings in the future.

North Dakota MDU natural gas customers are paying another $3.87 per month because of the cost of gas. That goes to $4.48 per month in January, and that will last until September. Xcel Energy is proposing its North Dakota customers will pay around $16 per month, starting in July, and that will be in place for 15 months.

The investor-owned utilities do not make any money from this – it’s just a cost pass-through.

"This can't happen again," Kroshus said at an PSC work session. "I do have a higher level of confidence that through the investigations that are underway, that the companies who profit from this have gotten the message that this won't be tolerated."

Kroshus said there needs to be some market reform.

"The utilities did not benefit, the ratepayers certainly did not benefit," Kroshus said. "There were entities that did extremely well during the cold weather event. It's just incredibly troubling."

The PSC meets Tuesday to consider Xcel’s plan. Last week, the Commission agreed to spread the payments out over 15 months.

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