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CONTACT: Patricia Van Gerpen, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, phone (605) 773-3201

PUC announces $3.4 million in MDU refunds

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission's efforts at the federal level mean the state's MDU customers will soon receive refunds totaling approximately $3.4 million. The PUC, on behalf of MDU consumers, protested a rate increase filed by Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Company with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission five years ago.

WBI is the primary interstate natural gas supplier used by MDU. The rates charged by WBI are passed along to MDU and its customers. WBI filed for the increase on December 1, 1999, and the FERC issued its refund order on April 19, 2005.

PUC Chairman Gary Hanson stated, "The South Dakota PUC and Montana Public Service Commission intervened in 1999 and have actively participated in many proceedings throughout the five years, including hearings in Washington, D.C. and FERC hearings. MDU customers in North Dakota and Wyoming are also affected, but their states' commissions opted not to be involved in the legal intervention." 

"MDU has about 43,500 customers in the Black Hills and 5,800 customers in central South Dakota," said PUC Vice Chairman Bob Sahr. "MDU has proposed returning South Dakota's portion of the refund over a ten month period starting in July, 2005, and ending in April, 2006, according to a proposal submitted to the PUC. The refund will reduce the cost of gas for customers on a per unit sold basis during these 10 months."

The credit is a reduction to the "purchased gas adjustment" on each MDU customer's statement throughout the refund period.

The total amount of the refund received by MDU from WBI was almost $17 million which includes the amounts collected in excess of final approved rates as well as accrued interest. MDU provides natural gas distribution service to approximately 225,000 customers in South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Minnesota. However, Minnesota's 20,000 customers are not part of the refund effort.

"We want to acknowledge our state's legislators and in particular, the appropriations committee, that approved South Dakota's investment via the PUC in this legal effort," said PUC Commissioner Dusty Johnson. "It is gratifying to see that this effort has resulted in refunds for South Dakota's MDU customers. Anyone who has questions on this is encouraged to contact the PUC's Consumer Affairs staff."       

Contact the PUC by calling 1-800-332-1782 or e-mailing

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