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"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Thursday, July 24th, 2014
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Minnesota Energy Resource Coorporation (MERC) rate increases


Fri, Feb 28th, 2014
Posted in All Features

A request was made by a Fillmore County Journal reader to look into the “customer charge” and “per unit charge” increases requested by MERC last fall.

MERC has many local natural gas customers in Rochester and surrounding cities. MERC, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group, filed a request with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to increase its natural gas rates by 5.52 percent overall or an increase of $14,187,597 in gross revenues on September 30, 2013. MERC has requested three rate increases since 2008, the last rate increase was three years ago.

My understanding is that the requested increase is not an increase in the base natural gas charge, but an increase in the retail natural gas rates which includes the wholesale cost of natural gas. For example, the rate increase for an average residential customer is expected to go from $8.50 to $11 per month, which taken by itself is greater than a 5.2 percent increase, but not when the whole bill is taken into account including the wholesale cost of natural gas.

The Minnesota PUC is tasked with regulating public utilities. A piece of their regulatory duties includes investigation into requested rate changes by large natural gas companies like MERC, which is the third largest distributor of natural gas in Minnesota.

In a press release the company called the requested increase modest and said it was to raise revenue to cover added costs due to “general inflation, property taxes, improvements to customer service programs, efforts to expand the customer base...and operations/maintenance projects to ensure reliability and safety for customers.” The company suggests they are experiencing increased costs due “to increased costs related to customer service functions and conservation programs.”

MERC expects that even with the rate increase residential customers will be paying less for natural gas than they did six years ago because the wholesale price of natural gas is considerably lower now than it was then.

MERC raises revenue to pay for the distribution of natural gas including infrastructure through the monthly customer charge, the per unit distribution charge, and the demand charge, if applicable. The wholesale price of natural gas is passed on to the customer directly “without adding a penny to the price.” The company’s revenue stream comes from these service charges to deliver natural gas and .....
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TJ Liquor

Black Hawk Aviator, former Kingsland grad, visits home

Fri, Feb 21st, 2014
Posted in Spring Valley Features

Even as a young boy growing up in the community of Spring Valley, Minn., Eric Mathison knew he was destined to join the military. A long line of proud and dedicated servicemen in his family definitely had an impact on Mathison’s vision of his futu ..... 
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Memorial fishing tournament takes place in Lanesboro

Fri, Feb 21st, 2014
Posted in Lanesboro Features

As snow fell on a chilly winter’s day at the 2014 Memorial Fishing Tournament in Lanesboro, Minn. on Saturday, February 15, all the participants felt was warmth as friends, family, and neighbors of Andrew Kingsbury, Blake Overland, and Matthew Eri ..... 
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Cindy Gallea to compete in 12th Iditarod

Fri, Feb 14th, 2014
Posted in Wykoff Features

While some people in this area complain about the cold and the snow of winter, there are others whose passion depends on such conditions. Cindy Gallea of Wykoff, Minn. has a passion for dog sled racing or “mushing” and the snow we now have in ..... 
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Power and Money - Who is paying the most for electricity?

Fri, Jan 24th, 2014
Posted in All Features

Power costs money. When residents and business owners of Fillmore County receive their monthly utility bills, they see firsthand the cost of their consumption. But, how does your utility bill compare with others in the region and the nation? Specifi ..... 
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Johnson dazzled by fireworks engagement

Fri, Jan 10th, 2014
Posted in All Features

Haeli Johnson’s life changed the day she graduated from Lanesboro High School in 2008. It was not only the fact that she had graduated, but it was also because of who she met at her graduation party. Haeli’s cousin, Jordan Johnson, stopped ..... 
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Tienter-Ertl couple to celebrate true small town wedding

By Angie Rodenburg

Fri, Jan 10th, 2014
Posted in Preston Features

As many people from small towns know it can be difficult to find love in a community where you are related to almost everyone--and if you find someone you’re not related to you just might want to confirm with grandma. Lucky for bride-to-be Grace T ..... 
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Wedding venues plentiful in Fillmore County

Fri, Jan 10th, 2014
Posted in All Features

As we all know, but sometimes forget, Fillmore County is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in Minnesota. Nestled in the Root River Valley, we are privy to astounding bluffs, hardwood forests and historic areas that can only be found in o ..... 
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