November 1, 2019
The average residential bill would increase by $11.
DULUTH – Minnesota Power is asking state regulators for a 10.5% rate increase that would raise the average residential bill by more than $11 a month and small business power bills by $30 a month.
The Duluth-based utility told the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Friday it needs to increase operating revenue by $65.9 million in the face of what it calls increased costs and “significant lost sales” among some industrial and wholesale customers.
“Even after this increase, rates will still be well below state and national averages,” said Frank Frederickson, Minnesota Power’s vice president of customer experience.
Before the full rate increase is approved, Minnesota Power is asking the state to approve a 7.7% interim rate increase — about $6 a month for residential customers. That would go into effect in January and remain in place until the final rate is decided.
There will be opportunities for public comment before the PUC makes its decision, which could take 12 to 18 months.
The utility, which has 145,000 customers across northeast and central Minnesota but sells most of its electricity to taconite operations and paper producers, was last granted a 3.5% increase that went into effect in December 2018 — less than the 6% increase the company asked for.
In a filing with the PUC, Minnesota Power said it has lost sales due to the permanent closure of a paper machine in Grand Rapids; an expired contract with Brainerd Public Utilities; ongoing repairs at the fire-damaged Husky refinery in Superior, and the expiration of a 100-megawatt “large market contract” next year. Read more.