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Make your voice heard on proposed Minnesota Power rate increase

If you follow this blog, you know that Minnesota Power has proposed two rate increases for its electric customers. Here’s an update.

Warning: This blog is going to get long. It will cover:

 

Summary of potential rate increases

EITE industrial rate discount and related customer charge

One of the potential increases would fund an electric rate discount for 11 energy-intensive, trade-exposed (EITE) industries. (Read my March 30th blog for more information.) The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has granted Minnesota Power permission to go forward with the EITE discount and the associated charges on other customers. The utility hasn’t announced yet if and when they will put it into place, but it could come as early as late spring or summer.

Under the EITE rate, if industries increase production, and electric sales increase as a result, then Minnesota Power will have to give a portion of their increased revenues back to the customers who paid for the program – so customers could eventually see a refund. However, several factors would have to be in place before that would happen.

General rate increase

In addition, the utility is going through the steps for a general rate increase for all customers. A part of this is the interim rate increase that customers have seen on their bills since January. Thanks to a change by the utility, the interim rate increase decreased slightly starting May 1, from 5.60% to 5.07%. This increase has also been largely offset by a reduction in the “renewable resource” line item on bills.

The final rate increase request still needs regulators’ approval, and is subject to a public process at the PUC that is expected to finish in early 2018. (CUB is participating in the process to represent the interests of residential and small business ratepayers.) If the final rate that’s approved is higher than the interim increase that customers are already paying, bills will increase at that point. If the final rate is lower than the interim increase, customers will get a credit for the amount they were overcharged.

Timeline

That’s a lot of moving pieces! Here’s a summary of the various rate changes:

  • January 1, 2017: A relatively small increase, reflecting a 5.60% interim rate increase and the renewable resource charge reduction
  • May 1, 2017: Decrease in the interim rate increase from 5.60% to 5.07%
  • Late 2017 or early 2018, expected: Final decision on general rate case
  • Unknown date: Possible increase of about 6-7% to fund the EITE industrial discount
  • Unknown date: Possible EITE refund

 

You may be exempt from the EITE increase

Low-income customers do not need to pay for the industrial rate discount. If you are eligible for LIHEAP (energy assistance), make sure Minnesota Power knows, so that you are not charged if and when the program goes into place. You do not need to have received energy assistance to qualify – only to be eligible based on your family income.

 

Tell the PUC what you think

The PUC is accepting comments on Minnesota Power’s service, rates, and other issues. Let them know what you think! This will help them decide how to rule on the utility’s general rate increase.

You can make your voice heard though any or all of the below channels.

In writing by July 3:

  • Online: At the PUC’s Speak Up website
  • By email: To consumer@state.mn.us
  • By mail: To Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, St. Paul, MN 55101-2147

In person: At public hearings in mid-June, you can comment in person in front of the judge who’s hearing the rate increase request. Anyone is welcome to comment, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

June 19 – Eveleth
2:00 and 6:30 p.m.
Eveleth Range Recreation & Civic Center
901 Hat Trick Avenue
Eveleth, MN 55734

June 20 – Duluth
2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
The Inn on Lake Superior
350 Canal Park Drive
Duluth, MN 55802

June 21 – Grand Rapids
6:30 p.m.
Itasca Community College
1851 East Highway 169
Backes Student Center
Continued Learning Conference Center
Grand Rapids, MN 55744-3397

June 22 – Little Falls
5:00 p.m.
Morrison County Government Center
213 1st Avenue Southeast
Little Falls, MN 56345-1468

 

 

 

Join CUB June 6 for more information

CUB will host two presentations in Duluth to explain these changes, help you prepare for increased bills, and help you prepare for the mid-June public hearings. You can also make an appointment to talk one-to-one with CUB’s Outreach Director for personalized advice at the utility bill clinic. The event is a partnership among CUB, Minnesota Citizens Federation Northeast, and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light. Find out more and sign up to reserve your spot.

 

Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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