HELENA — Montana-Dakota Utilities is asking state regulators to approve a 5.4 percent rate increase for its nearly 81,000 natural gas customers in eastern Montana — just eight months after an earlier increase was approved.
The company filed for the $3 million annual rate increase late last week, saying it wants to recover increased investment in its gas distribution network, as well as operation and maintenance costs.
It also asked the state Public Service Commission to grant a temporary 2.6 percent increase within 30 days, so the company can start recovering its costs while the PSC considers the full rate case.
The PSC has yet to act on that request and usually takes several months to decide a full rate case.
MDU, headquartered in Bismarck, N.D., provides natural gas to 80,700 customers in Montana, including Billings, Miles City, Sidney, Glendive and Glasgow. Its gas service in Montana extends as far west as Park City in southern Montana and Malta along the Hi-Line.
The increase, as proposed by the company, is entirely in the flat, monthly charge paid by each customer.
This charge for residential customers would increase from about $7 a month to $10.64, while per-dekatherm delivery prices for natural gas would decline slightly.
Taken together, the two changes would increase rates for the average residential customer about $38 a year, said Mark Hanson, MDU spokesman in Bismarck.