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Minnesota energy natural gas final rates drop, small refund to follow in March 2010

Mon, Feb 15th, 2010
Posted in Business Announcements

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) has approved new final natural gas rates effective January 1, 2010, for customers of Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation ("MERC"), a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group (NYSE: TEG). The new rates will average from $0.35 to $0.68 per month less than interim rates granted earlier in October 2008 that residential customers are currently paying, depending on the customer's location. The final rates differ because MERC has four different rate zones throughout Minnesota, and because average customer use varies throughout the state.

However, the new final rates do reflect an increase of about $3.56 to $5.23 monthly over rates in effect prior to October 2008. The increase is due to rising costs for safety and reliability infrastructure improvements made by Minnesota Energy Resources.

Still, the company expects customers to pay nearly 20 percent less in heating costs this year due to lower costs for the natural gas commodity.

"We're expecting a typical residential customer using 71 therms of natural gas monthly will see a savings of more than $100 from last year's heating costs, based on normal temperatures this year," said Ann Carlon, senior external affairs manager for Minnesota Energy.

"Several factors are influencing the current lower prices of natural gas," said Carlon. "There is good supply and a relatively mild entry into the winter heating season helping to hold down demand for natural gas. This is good news for customers, especially in this difficult economic climate. We'll also make a small refund to customers."

Refunds for individual customers will vary by their actual usage during the interim period, but typical customers will receive refunds between $10 and $25. The refund is being made because the final approved rate increase was lower than the interim rate increase that went into effect in October 2008. The refund reflects the amounts over-billed for each customer, plus interest, and will be shown as a credit on customer's March 2010 bills.

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