BUTTE, Mont., March 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Montana Public Service Commission today approved NorthWestern Energy's (NYSE:NWE) request to adjust natural gas rates on an interim basis beginning April 1 pending a final decision in the company's general rate case expected in the second quarter.
The commission today approved a $13.2 million adjustment which will result in an increase of about 5.42% or about $4.41 in the total bill of a residential customer using 100 therms of natural gas; however, the actual amount varies for individual customers depending on the amount of natural gas used. The interim adjustment is subject to refund, plus interest, if the final decision on the general rate case is lower than the amount approved today.
The interim adjustment represents the first increase in regulated natural gas transmission and distribution rates since January 1, 2008; rates decreased by $1 million in 2011. Because natural gas supply rates have declined significantly and are expected to remain relatively low for the foreseeable future, total natural gas bills for an average customer would still be well below the average over the last ten years. Based on the interim adjustment, a typical monthly residential natural gas bill would be $85.81 which is still much lower than the ten-year average of $99.82.
The company filed last fall to increase rates to account for investments in its natural gas transmission, distribution and storage systems and to implement pipeline integrity and infrastructure improvements, as well as cover increased expenses. Natural gas supply costs are tracked and adjusted separately.Routine operations and maintenance costs have continued to increase while usage has remained flat due to a variety of factors including weather, economic conditions and a general trend toward efficiency improvements. As a result, NorthWestern Energy is seeking a total $15.7 million in annual revenue at a total authorized Rate of Return of 7.8% and Cost of Equity of 10.5%. A final order is expected on or before June 30, 2013. About NorthWestern EnergyNorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 673,200 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's Web site at www.northwesternenergy.com. SOURCE NorthWestern Corporation
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