Montana-Dakota Utilities on Aug. 26, 2020, filed with the North Dakota Public Service Commission a natural gas price increase request of approximately $8.97 million in annual revenues. If approved, it would increase residential customers’ monthly bill by an average of about $6.26 per month.
We understand that, considering Covid-19 and the hardships it has created, customers may question the timing of our request. Included in this request is an infrastructure investment of nearly $53 million since 2018. A significant portion of that investment is related to system safety and reliability; recovering that investment is important for ensuring the financial strength of the company. The filing is just the start of a very long regulatory process. The PSC has seven months to review the filing.
Final prices, upon commission approval, would not be implemented until spring 2021.
The company also requested an interim price increase of $6.89 million over current annual revenues. On average, a residential customer would pay $3.57 more per month. To minimize the impact to customers, Montana-Dakota proposes to delay implementation of interim rates until Jan. 1, 2021. Interim rates allow the company to collect new revenues while the overall request is pending before the commission; revenues collected are subject to refund if the PSC approves a lower amount than the interim rate.
As part of the filing, Montana-Dakota Utilities also is seeking to combine natural gas operations within North Dakota, which means transitioning the 2,355 customers in Wahpeton and surrounding area from Great Plains Natural Gas to Montana-Dakota Utilities for regulatory reporting purposes. Great Plains Natural Gas is a division of Montana-Dakota Utilities. Upon implementation of final rates in this case, Great Plains’ Wahpeton customers will be serviced under Montana-Dakota’s tariffs and after a one-year period will begin receiving their natural gas bills under a Montana-Dakota invoice. Under the proposal, prices would increase by $4.10 a month for Wahpeton customers.
The regulatory filing also includes a request for interim price increase, which if approved would be implemented while the PSC reviews the overall request. The increase for Wahpeton customers would be $1.77 more per month.