MN Power Rate Case - 2008
In the 2008 Minnesota Power rate case, the Company proposed to eliminate their inverted block rate structure.
That structure provides lower electric rates for lower energy usage and the rates increase as the amount of electricity usage increases. This rate structure directly benefits one-quarter of all Minnesota Power customers (26,000), promotes affordable electric service for low and fixed income customers and provides a conservation incentive to use less electricity. In the rate case, Minnesota Power proposed to eliminate that rate design and the Minnesota Department of Commerce Office of Energy Security supported the Company’s proposal.
ECC worked with the Citizens Federation (formerly Minnesota Senior Federation – Northeast) and prevailed in preserving Minnesota Power’s rate structure. Rather than experience electric bill increases of over 100% as the Company had proposed, ECC’s expert testimony convinced the PUC to retain the current rate design, limiting the overall electric bill increase for the lowest usage customers to about $3.00 per month.
Less than nine months after the 2008 rate case, Minnesota Power filed another rate increase request. Under the Company's current proposal, residential customers would experience an additional average increase of 19%. ECC is currently intervening in this case.
Centerpoint Rate Case - 2010
In January 2010, the Commission ruled to include inverted block rates and expanded low-income energy conservation in the CenterPoint rate case. Under the new block rate structure, CenterPoint customers who use very small amounts of gas (e.g. in apartments using gas only for cooking) and up to 80% of the residential average usage received a discount on the cost of gas rather than an increase. Average residential customers experienced a 3% increase rather than the originally proposed 6%. Customers who use above the residential increase will pay more for natural gas costs. This rate design will benefit low-usage customers (disproportionately low and fixed income customers) and encourage higher usage customers to conserve.
As a result of work in that case, ECC is working with CenterPoint to develop expanded low-income conservation programs, particularly for low-income renters.