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When Texas’ natural gas supplies froze up, prices soared, and now Minnesota’s customers are looking at an $800 million bill

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  1. skybrian
    From the article: [....] [...] [...] [...]

    From the article:

    Minnesota’s biggest gas companies are putting forward plans to recoup their expenses by adding a surcharge to customers’ bills, which the state utility commission would first have to approve. Normally, such adjustments to account for winter prices go into effect in September, but Minnesota’s biggest gas utility, Houston-based CenterPoint Energy, says the financial pinch is so great it wants to start billing customers next month — and charging them nearly 9 percent interest until the extraordinary costs are paid off.


    In state after state, from the Gulf Coast to the Rockies, from the Ozarks to the shores of Lake Superior, utility regulators have launched investigations into what went wrong, and gas companies have moved to pass on their exceptional costs to customers. Investigators say they are on the lookout for evidence of price-gouging and market manipulation. In Minnesota, where the temperature dropped below minus-20 degrees in February and scarcely a single customer lost gas or electricity, state officials are struggling to come up with an equitable solution to a debacle made in Texas.

    Gas prices in Minnesota rose to 70 times their normal level, as deliveries to the state’s main trading hub dropped by 39 percent.


    CenterPoint argues that its push for immediate relief is to ease the burden on its customers, because the sooner the $500 million is paid off, the less the interest charges will be. Also, it says, any delay would affect its credit rating, leading to higher borrowing costs that would eventually be reflected in bills.


    Minnesota’s second-largest gas company, Xcel Energy, also wants to spread the recovery of costs over two years — but said it would not charge interest, which it said would amount to $24.7 million on borrowing to cover its expenses. The company, based in Minneapolis, predicted a charge of about $250 per residential customer. Minnesota Energy Resources said it would hope to recover about $225 per customer. The smallest commercial utility, Greater Minnesota Gas, said it had enough of a supply in storage in February and was able to avoid the spot market.


    CenterPoint argues that the interest charge reflects its own capital borrowing costs and that it is an appropriate item to add to its bills.

    2 votes