Minnesota utilities regulators Thursday approved a 5.8% interim rate increase for CenterPoint Energy that will go into effect Jan. 1.
Minnesota Power, which is based in Duluth and has 145,000 customers across northeast and central Minnesota, received approval for a hike of the same percentage.
CenterPoint is Minnesota’s largest gas utility with 860,000 customers, primarily in the Twin Cities but also in a swath of central and southern Minnesota from Brainerd to Blue Earth.
In late October, Houston-based CenterPoint filed for a rate increase with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The company requested a full rate increase of $62 million, or 6.8%, for all of its customer classes combined — residential, commercial and industrial.
The company also asked for the interim rate increase of $52.7 million, or 5.8%. The PUC typically grants an interim rate increase that stays in effect until the rate increase is finalized.
If the final rate increase is lower than the interim hike, CenterPoint customers will get refunds for the difference, including interest.
After public meetings and hearings, the PUC will likely decide on any final rate increase in late 2020 or early 2021.
CenterPoint has said it needs the money primarily to address the rising costs of such infrastructure projects as upgrading and replacing pipelines.
The average Minnesota Power residential customer would see an increase of $4.50 per month under the 5.8% interim hike. The utility had asked for a 7.7% increase.
Minnesota Power is ultimately seeking a 10.5% rate increase that would bring average residential bills up $11 per month and increase small-business bills by $30 a month. It will be up to the PUC to determine the size of the rate increase, and a decision could take more than a year.
The increase is being sought in the face of “significant lost sales” and as costs continue to increase, according to regulatory filings.