MVRC aks for signaturesCouncil says residents shouldn’t have to pay for failed Big Stone II plant Missouri Valley Resource Council members don’t think Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. should charge customers for what it calls phony profits. “We shouldn’t have to pay for a project that was never built,” said Verle Reinicke, council chairman.
Missouri Valley Resource Council members don’t think Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. should charge customers for what it calls phony profits.
“We shouldn’t have to pay for a project that was never built,” said Verle Reinicke, council chairman.
Members are asking MDU ratepayers to sign a petition urging the utility not to charge for the nearly $1 million in anticipated profits from a failed Big Stone II coal-fired power plant in South Dakota.
MDU Resources Group Senior Public Relations Representative Mark Hanson, Bismarck, says the plan to build Big Stone II ended in late 2009 after one of the four partners in the project pulled out.
Hanson said MDU is not billing ratepayers for estimated profits but to recover development costs.
Wednesday, there were 371 signatures on the petition.
“Our goal is to get between 500 and 700 signatures by Nov. 8,” said Scott Skokos, clean energy organizer for the Dakota Resource Council. “It’s a citizens’ petition so there is no required amount of signatures needed.”
The Missouri Valley Resource Council hopes to hand deliver the petition to MDU and the North Dakota Public Service Commission on or by Nov. 8.
Neither MDU nor the PSC are required to take action but the council hopes that by seeing the petition MDU will change its mind. The council also hopes the PSC will give thought to customers and when making decisions on similar cases in the future.
The PSC approved a settlement agreement with MDU regarding development costs for the Big Stone II project June 25, Hanson said.
The agreement allows for recovery of North Dakota’s share of the costs, approximately $9.6 million, over a three-year period.
Recovery is on a per-kilowatt hour basis through the fuel cost adjustment. For a residential customer using 750 kilowatt-hour per month, the increase is about $1.50 a month. The charge began on Aug. 1.
“I signed the petition because I think MDU should not make a profit off of a project that was never built and won’t be built,” said Terrence Kardong, Richardton resident and Dakota Resource Council members.
The PSC gave MDU and other Big Stone II investors an “advance determination of prudence” in 2008, according to a Missouri Valley Resource Council press release
After the utilities abandoned the project, the PSC ruled MDU could recover its $13 million in costs from ratepayers, plus another $952,000 as a return on investment, according to the press release.
“In regard to the $952,000 that is the interest Montana-Dakota had to pay on the investment we made; it’s for the period of November 2009 to July 2010. It is not profit or earnings,” Hanson said.
That $952,000 is part of the expense that the bill payers are paying back, Hanson said.
MDU serves about 75,350 electric and 90,000 natural gas customers in 150 communities in North Dakota, Hanson said.
Ratepayers can sign the petition by e-mailing Skokos at scott@drcinfo, or go online to www.PetitionOnline.com/ MVRC/petition.html.