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Minnesota Power lowers rate increase request

A boost in mining this year means electric bills won't be going up as much as planned.Minnesota Power is reducing its rate-increase request from an average of 9.1 percent to 6.1 percent for all its customers, the company said Tuesday.Residential ...

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A boost in mining this year means electric bills won’t be going up as much as planned.
Minnesota Power is reducing its rate-increase request from an average of 9.1 percent to 6.1 percent for all its customers, the company said Tuesday.
Residential customers will see a 15 percent increase instead of an 18 percent increase if the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approves the request. That would cause a typical residential bill to rise from $81 to $90 per month.
The interim rate increase of 5.6 percent, which went into effect in January, would also be lowered to 5.1 percent.
Minnesota Power filed the updated request with the utility commission on Tuesday, saying the expected energy demand from the area’s mining industry would drive revenues higher than anticipated.
“As mining and paper companies expand production, they use more energy, which in turn can reduce the costs others must pay for delivering the energy we produce,” David McMillan, executive vice president of Minnesota Power, said in a statement.
Mining companies alone account for more than 47 percent of Minnesota Power's revenue.
The utility first filed to increase rates in November “to support infrastructure investments, efficiency upgrades and business expenses,” according to a press release. The increased rates were to raise yearly revenues by $55 million; the new request looks to increase revenue by $39 million.
Minnesota Power added the increase will be partially offset on customer bills by “a reduction in a monthly energy charge used to pay for renewable energy investments.”
“Consequently, the net increase from the rate request that typical residential customers will see in their monthly bills in mid-2018 will be approximately 10 percent, if Minnesota Power's rate request is approved in full,” the press release said.
The Minnesota Public Utility Commission is expected to hold public hearings on the rate increase this summer, and could make a final determination on the increase in early 2018.

Brooks Johnson was an enterprise/investigative reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune from 2016 to 2019.
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