March 29, 2022
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Minnesota lawmakers are mulling proposals aimed at providing relief to utility customers who are paying for surge charges incurred during a cold snap last February when a winter storm in Texas disrupted natural gas supplies.
A proposal that passed out of a Senate committee Wednesday would create a tax credit for municipal utility customers for excess costs paid over that five-day period last year.
It would also set up a program run by the Public Utilities Commission for larger, regulated utilities like CenterPoint and Xcel Energy to provide bill credits to their customers.
“The legislature recognizes that costs for natural gas, propane, and heating oil have increased to levels that have become unaffordable,” says the bill’s state purpose, adding that the legislation is “a mechanism for relief to customers of utilities and suppliers in this state.”
That polar vortex cost regulated and municipal utilities in Minnesota more than $660 million during the five-day period last year, said Annie Levenson-Falk, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota. The dramatic increase in prices ultimately shifted onto to the customers, many of whom are paying for that in additional fees over several months.
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