UPDATED: PSC to consider gas, electric rate cases
The North Dakota Public Service Commission will take up two major rate cases.
One concerns natural gas, the other electric service.
The PSC has approved interim rates for both. Utilities are allowed by law to seek an interim rate increase, while a rate case is pending before the PSC. That means, effective in January, average MDU gas customers will see their bills go up by $5.23 per month.
If MDU is granted the full increase request, bills would be increased by another 67 cents, or $5.90 per month, for most customers. But if the Commission decides the rate case with lower rates than granted as an interim, customers would be entitled to a refund.
Commissioner Julie Fedorchak holds the natural gas portfolio. She said she didn’t like to do this, just before the holidays. But she said the infrastructure to deliver the gas needs to be replaced.
"Gas systems were put in place 25 to 50 years ago," Fedorchak said. "Those systems connect to people's homes — and it's really important that they be safe. In order to maintain that safety, you need to keep investing in replacements of those facilities, as well as upgrades and maintenance."
Fedorchak said that's what MDU maintains is driving this case.
Otter Tail Power Company has also been granted an interim rate on an electric rate case.
The company has asked for a more than 8 percent permanent increase, or about $11.33 per month for an average residential customer.
Commissioner Sheri Haugen-Hoffart offered the motion for an interim increase.
"The net effect would be $7.26, due to the interim rate," Haugen-Hoffart said.
In its filing, the utility also wants to roll its “riders” into the main rate.
The Commissioners said it will take several months to dig into the rate increase requests.