Montana Dakota Utilities Co. has filed for a natural gas rate increase.
The utility is asking for an overall 6.4 percent increase. For residential customers, the increase would be 9.5 percent.
"For a residential custimer, it would be about $5.15 a month," said MDU spokesman Mark Hanson. "What we're looking to do is recover costs for quite a bit of investment in our natural gas facilities, as well as technology upgrades."
Hanson says some of those upgrades benefit customers directly.
"WE no longer go door-to-door to read meters," said Hanson. "We have an automated system that automatically sends reads, and that's really a lot more efficient."
Hanson also says MDU also implemented a new customer information system.
"That has changed our bill format to make it a lot more user-friendly," said Hanson. "It also allowed up to provide an on-line account services, where customers can go, log on, see their account information and pay their bills on-line."
Hanson says the last time the utility asked for a natural gas rate increase was in 2004 – when the North Dakota Public Service Commission granted a 2.1 percent increase. Hanson says the utility will be asking the PSC to approve an interim rate hike of 4.2 percent. That would be in effect until the Commission decides the main increase. And it would mean an extra $ 2.50 more on a customer’s monthly bill.