MDU gas customers to pay an average $2 more per month

Nov 5, 2015

Public Service Commissioners Randy Christmann (l), Julie Fedorchak and Brian Kalk discuss the MDU rate settlement.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission has approved a $2.6 million dollar rate increase for MDU natural gas customers.

MDU had originally asked for a $4.3 million rate increase.

Under the new rate design, the basic service charge – that is, the cost you pay just to bring the gas to your home – will go from $15 a month to $19.60 a month. But MDU will drop its distribution delivery charge – meaning you’ll only pay for the gas you use over and above the monthly basic charge.

Commissioner Brian Kalk says the average residential customer will see about $2.03 more on their monthly bill. But he says others may see more than that.

"If all you do is use natural gas to grill in the summer, you're going to see more of an increase," said Kalk. "You're using a very small amount of gas, but the service is available to you all the time. You should be paying for that."

MDU customers will see a one-time $7 credit on their bills in February. That’s because the final rate settlement was less than the interim rates MDU was allowed to charge.

A spokesman for AARP North Dakota says it was important for his organization to be an intervenor in the MDU natural gas rate case.

Josh Askvig says the PSC acknowledged AARP’s role in reducing the rate increase. And he says AARP is happy MDU’s proposal for an automatic rate increase in five years was dropped. But Askvig says AARP is not happy with the new fixed rate monthly charge.

"Raising it to $19.60 a month only a little more than a year after MDU increased the charge from $9 to $15 a month, we disagree with MDU's assertion on the need for the higher fixed charge," said Askvig.

Askvig says the organization will continue to fight for more consumer control over utility charges.