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MDU rate increase will hurt North Dakotans

Here we go again – another year and another Montana-Dakota Utilities rate increase proposal.

For the third time in four years, MDU is looking to unfairly hike rates on residential consumers’ natural gas bills. This time MDU is asking the Public Service Commission to agree to a natural gas rate hike of 5.4 percent to boost its revenues by $5.9 million in North Dakota alone.

This increase would fall hardest on those with fixed incomes who cannot easily stretch to cover additional costs. I am especially concerned that when MDU started this process four years ago, the fixed rate charge was only $9 a month. Just two years ago it was doubled. This proposal hikes it to a whopping $22.58 a month.  And in this latest rate increase, as with the previous ones, homeowners will shoulder most of it.

MDU also wants to tack on a new daily surcharge which could fast track future rate increases.

Fortunately, the public has an opportunity to speak out about this rate hike proposal. Folks around the Jamestown area will have two opportunities to make their voices heard. Previous rate hikes have been reduced by millions of dollars because enough passionate customers spoke out and AARP intervened on their behalf.

AARP is encouraging concerned citizens to attend and provide comment at the public hearings to be held on Oct. 24 in Room 338, Rhoades Science Center at Valley City State University and on Oct. 25 in Room 101, Rhoades Science Center at VCSU. Both sessions begin at 5 p.m.

North Dakotans ought to let state regulators, who can approve or deny this request, know what they ought to do with this one.

Askvig is state director of AARP North Dakota.