Increase in MDU gas rates still unclear

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 8:02 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Montana-Dakota Utilities gas customers are already paying an interim rate increase, but another price hike is still on pause.

After compromises between MDU and the AARP, the Public Service Commission said they’re close to a decision on a potential natural gas rate increase, but need more time.

One hundred fifteen thousand customers utilize MDU services in North Dakota, 99,000 of which are residential customers.

Initially, residential customers would’ve had to pay the vast majority of the increase, but after some compromise the burden on individuals has decreased.

Originally, residential customers throughout the state would’ve experienced a total increase of about 5.8 million dollars.

“It’s targeted to the residential customer more than the large users,” said Bismarck retiree George Simek.

But a settlement between the AARP and MDU reduced that by about a million.

“It’s a million dollars that they otherwise would’ve payed versus what would’ve happened had we not intervened,” said AARP State Director Josh Askvig.

AARP has been working to decrease the cost of a gas rate hike on elderly populations because many of them have fixed incomes.

The public service commission agree it’s an issue and mostly with the two groups’ compromise.

“Even settlements aren’t perfect. I certainly like this better than the prior version. It still moves the right classes in the right direction. And, is it perfect? No. I don’t know if it’s ever perfect,” said Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus.

Ultimately, the commission didn’t make a decision, citing more information is needed regarding what the impact would be if they lowered the revenue increase even more.

Although a decision wasn’t made today, the public service commission said they’re very close to one.

Another work session, which could finally offer more clarity for customers, will be scheduled within three weeks from now.

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