The Public Service Commission has voted to suspend a natural gas rate increase requested by Montana Dakota Utilities.
MDU has asked for an overall 6.4 percent increase. It would be 9.5 percent for residential customers – or about $5.15 a month.
The PSC had to move to suspend the rates – or they would take effect within 30 days.
Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says the company and the Commission will have to clearly explain why the rate increase is in front of the PSC.
"It is a little counter-intuitive, when natural gas prices have gone down nationally, for customers to be looking at a rate increase," said Fedorchak. "That will raise some eybrows."
But Fedorchak says MDU has spent a lot of money to upgrade its distribution system.
"From the onset, that's what's driving this case," said Fedorchak.
Under state law, MDU has asked for an interim rate increase – and that would raise customers’ bills by $2.50 a month. The Commission will act on that later.