Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. filed a natural gas rate increase request with the Montana Public Service Commission Friday. If approved, it would increase residential customers’ monthly bill by an average of about $3.21 a month.
“We have worked, and continue to work, extremely hard at watching our operating expenses and looking for ways to be more efficient each day. That is one facet of our business,” said Frank Morehouse, president and chief executive officer of Montana-Dakota. “But we also have made significant investments in our natural gas infrastructure to ensure safe and reliable service to our customers.”
The main reason for the rate increase request is to recover the cost of the increased investment in natural gas facilities, which has totaled about $15.8 million since 2011. The proposed increase is for $3 million annually over current rates, or a 3.6 percent overall increase. Montana-Dakota has about 80,760 natural gas customers in 36 Montana communities.
The proposed increase for each rate class, which is based on rate class studies, is:
• Residential 5.4 percent
• Firm general 0.8 percent
• Small interruptible 0.8 percent
• Large interruptible 0.7 percent
The Montana PSC has up to nine months to issue a decision on the proposed increase request.
Montana-Dakota has also filed a request for an interim rate increase of 2.6 percent, or $2.2 million over current rates, which, if approved, would be implemented while the PSC reviews the overall request. The interim increase would be $1.64 more per month for the average residential customer.