Published June 9, 2020
Last Thursday, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) unanimously approved a resolution to Minnesota Power’s rate increase request that will result in immediate refunds for customers.
The utility, which provides power to Duluth and parts of northeast, north-central, and central Minnesota, had originally requested a large rate increase, including a 15% rate hike for residential customers. CUB had been working to fight the rate hike. However, after COVID-19 hit, Minnesota Power worked with parties, including CUB, to come up with a revised and much lower request. The agreement was also supported by the Energy CENTS Coalition, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and Walmart.
Under the approved rate increase, about $12 million total will be refunded to consumers. Customers can expect the refunds as a one-time credit on their August electric bills. The average household will receive approximately $20, though actual refunds will vary depending on electricity usage. This refunds a 5.8% “interim” rate increase that customers had been paying from January through April while the PUC considered Minnesota Power’s full rate increase request. From May 1 forward, residential customers will see about a 4.6% increase compared with the rates they paid in December 2019 (slightly higher than the overall average rate increase of 4.1% that you may have seen cited in news articles).
In addition, the PUC approved, and Minnesota Power supported, several specific requests from CUB. Minnesota Power will provide more transparency into its cost calculations in the next rate case. It will work with interested parties to consider alternatives to the ways that late fees are billed to customers and how late fees are spent. And parties like CUB that work in the public interest will be allowed to request that the utility cover their costs to participate in this case, as would have been allowed under state law if the rate case had not been resolved early.
Minnesota Power customers can look for changes on their bills in July. If you have any questions or would like advice about how your home or small business uses electricity, contact CUB any time: email@example.com or 651-300-4701.
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