FERGUS FALLS, MINN. – Oct. 1, 2015 – Great Plains Natural Gas filed a natural gas rate increase request with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Wednesday. If approved, it would increase a residential customer’s monthly bill by an average of about $3 a month for customers served in the north district and approximately $5.25 per month for customers located in the south district.
Great Plains is proposing to combine the north and south rate districts as part of the rate case. The north district includes Crookston, Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids, Vergas and Breckenridge. The company’s south district includes Dawson, Boyd, Clarkfield, Marshall, Montevideo, Granite Falls, Wood Lake, Sacred Heart, Echo, Belview, Renville, Danube and Redwood Falls.
The company’s last natural gas rate increase, which was filed in October 2004, was an overall 1.3 percent increase, effective in January 2007.
“The rate increase is driven primarily by the need to recover investments made in infrastructure necessary to safely and reliably serve our customers,” said Nicole Kivisto, president and CEO of Great Plains Natural Gas. “We have worked hard to keep our costs as low as possible, which is evident by holding our rates steady for about 10 years. But we have made significant and needed investments in our facilities and need to recover those costs.”
The proposed increase is for $1.6 million annually over current rates, or a 6.4 percent overall increase. Great Plains serves about 21,400 customers in 18 western Minnesota communities.
The investment by Great Plains Natural Gas in its Minnesota operations has increased by $19.7 million, or approximately 73 percent, from 2005 to the 2016 projected levels included in this rate case filing.
The proposed increase for each rate class, which is based on rate class studies, is:
• Residential 8.8 percent
• Firm general 6.4 percent
• Small interruptible 3.0 percent
• Large interruptible 2.0 percent
The Minnesota PUC has up to 10 months to issue a decision on the proposed increase request. Great Plains also filed a request for an interim rate increase of 6.4 percent, or $1.5 million over current rates, which, if approved, would be implemented while the PUC reviews the overall request. The interim increase would be $3.57 more per month for the average residential customer in the north district and $2.86 per month for residential customers in the south district. The revenues collected on an interim basis are subject to refund depending on the PUC’s final decision.
Great Plains encourages customers to use energy wisely. Conservation tips, information on energy assistance and information on the company’s balanced billing program can be found on the Great Plains Natural Gas website: www.gpng.com.