Aug. 11 (8/11) a reminder to always call 811 before digging

FERGUS FALLS, MINN. – August 9, 2016 – With August 11 almost here, Great Plains Natural Gas hopes this date on the calendar, 8/11, will serve as a natural reminder for residents to call 811 prior to any digging project to have underground utility lines marked. Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged nationwide because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.

When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to the local one call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both. This is a free service.

Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting. After all, calling before you dig is the law.

 “On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors alike to call 811 before digging to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said Pat Darras, vice president of operations at Great Plains Natural Gas. “It really is the only way to know which utilities are buried in your area.”

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Visit for more information about safe digging practices.

Great Plains Natural Gas a founding partner in EPA’s Methane Challenge Program

FERGUS FALLS, MINN. – March 30, 2016 – Great Plains Natural Gas, a division of MDU Resources Group, Inc., is one of the founding partners in the Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Methane Challenge Program provides a mechanism through which oil and natural gas companies can make and track ambitious commitments to reduce methane emissions. The program officially launched today at the Global Methane Forum in Washington, D.C.

The Methane Challenge Program provides a platform for partners to showcase their efforts to reduce methane emissions, improve air quality, and capture and monetize natural gas.

Great Plains Natural Gas and its sister utility companies will focus on excavation damages.

“Excavation damage to our natural gas pipelines by third parties is a significant cause of our emissions and the main reason we are placing our focus on this area,” said Nicole Kivisto, president and CEO of Great Plains Natural Gas. “Calling for locates before you dig will be a big part of our continued education and promotion in this area. We believe it’s important to be a founding partner in this voluntary program.”

Great Plains Natural Gas files natural gas increase request in Minnesota

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:

Darras named vice president of operations for Montana-Dakota/Great Plains Natural Gas

DurrasBISMARCK, N.D. – Jan. 28, 2015 – Pat Darras has been named vice president of operations for Montana-Dakota Utilities and Great Plains Natural Gas, effective Jan. 26. Darras most recently was director of the company’s Dakota Heartland Region, based in Bismarck.

"We are pleased to have Pat fill this role. He has shown great leadership ability in his previous positions with the company and we look forward to his continued success in this new position," said Nicole Kivisto, president and CEO of Montana-Dakota and Great Plains. "His extensive operational experience will be a great fit on the executive team of the utility company."

Darras replaces Kivisto, who was promoted to her current role on Jan. 9, 2015. Darras joined Montana-Dakota in 2002 and has also held positions of engineer and gas superintendent. He has additional experience in refinery and industrial construction work. Darras has a construction engineering degree from North Dakota State University, master’s degrees in business administration and management from the University of Mary, and is also a graduate of the University of Idaho’s Utility Executive Course.

Kivisto named President and CEO of MDU Resources Group's utility companies

MDU Resources Group, Inc. today announced that Nicole Kivisto has been named president and CEO of the corporation’s utility group, which includes Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., Great Plains Natural Gas Co., Cascade Natural Gas Corp. and Intermountain Gas Company. The utility group serves more than 1 million electric and natural gas customers in eight states.

Kivisto’s new role will be effective Jan. 9. She replaces K. Frank Morehouse, who has resigned.

“Nicole is an outstanding leader who is widely respected across our utility group’s management team,” said David L. Goodin, president and CEO of MDU Resources. “With her broad financial expertise and success in her operational role, Nicole is ideally suited to lead the utility group’s continuing growth.”

Kivisto has been vice president of operations for Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. and Great Plains Natural Gas Co. since January of 2014. Prior to that she was vice president, controller and chief accounting officer for MDU Resources Group. Kivisto joined the company in 1995 and has held a number of positions of increasing responsibility, including controller.

Kivisto is a native of Beulah, N.D. She has a degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota-Moorhead and is also a graduate of the Carlson School of Management Minnesota Executive Program and the University of Idaho’s Utility Executive Course. She is a certified public accountant.

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