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Black Hills Power, PUC agree to deal for customers

By Bob Mercer

Capitol correspondent

PIERRE -- Residential customers of Black Hills Power would pay 5.7 percent more for their electricity under a deal pending before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission.

Most general-service customers would see an increase of 7.6 percent, while large general-service and industrial customers face a 6.1 percent hike.

The commission scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday to consider accepting the settlement that has been jointly proposed by PUC staff and Black Hills Power.

The changes would take effect Oct. 1 if the commission approves.

Black Hills Power's original application in December sought a 9.94 increase in revenues. The goal was to generate an additional $13.7 million of annual revenues.

The settlement calls for a 6.4 percent increase for an additional $8.8 million.

Rate increases in South Dakota frequently result from settlements by the PUC staff rather than proceeding to full hearings before the commission.

The commission recently canceled the Oct. 8-9 hearing that was previously scheduled for Black Hills Power.

Black Hills Power raised rates on an interim basis effective June 16. Under the plan, refunds are to be made to customers, because the interim rates were higher than those in the settlement. The company estimates the average residential refund will be $10.50.