Black Hills Energy natural gas service customers in several area communities will see an increase in their rates, starting Jan. 1, 2022.
On Dec. 28, the Iowa Utilities Board approved a settlement agreement that allows Black Hills an overall Iowa annual revenue increase of $5.9 million. It is anticipated this will result in an average monthly bill increase for residential customers of $1.45, on top of the temporary rates they have already been paying.
Black Hills provides natural gas service to customers in Lake Mills, Leland, Fertile, Forest City, Hanlontown, and Klemme. Black Hills had initially requested to increase its gas service rate revenues in Iowa by more than $10.5 million annually.
Under Iowa law, an interim rate increase representing a portion of the overall rate increase request was allowed to go into effect in June while the rate request was being considered by the IUB. With the Board’s decision order approving the settlement agreement, temporary rates collected during the rate case can be retained by the company.
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The IUB received written public comments and held eight public customer comment meetings in September and October 2021 throughout Black Hills’ Iowa service territory. One of those comment meetings was held in Winnebago County on Sept. 28 at the Lake Mills Civic Center.
It is Black Hills' first increase in gas service rates in Iowa in about 11 years. In letters to customers, the company cites the need to recoup costs for investments in natural gas replacement and reliability projects, safeguarding utility meters, and upgrading farm tap fuel lines.
An average-use residential customer saw a typical monthly bill increase from $50.68 to $50.73 starting on June 11 when temporary rate were implemented as allowed under Iowa law. That will now increase to a typical monthly bill of $52.18 with the IUB’s settlement approval. A party to the approved settlement is the Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate, which represents customer interests generally in cases that come before the IUB.