MidAmerican Energy Iowa gets OK to increase price for natural gas

MidAmerican Energy Iowa gets OK to increase price for natural gas
MidAmerican Energy Iowa gets OK to increase price for natural gas

MidAmerican Energy has won approval to raise Iowa natural gas customers’ bills by nearly $2 a month, the first gas rate increase in two decades.

The Iowa Utilities Board approved the rate increase March 29. It’s expected to become effective by May 1, said Des Moines-based MidAmerican, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

The increase will push the average monthly bill $1.86 higher — or 2.4% — for about 616,000 Iowa natural gas customers, according to information from MidAmerican and Iowa Utilities Board.

MidAmerican says it’s the first gas rate increase since 2002.

MidAmerican says price of delivering gas, maintaining system up

The hike is expected to generate $29.6 million more in annual revenue, under a settlement agreement between MidAmerican, the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Advocate and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 109.

It’s less than the $39.4 million MidAmerican initially requested in June. MidAmerican received approval last year to collect a temporary rate increase that averaged about $5 per month. MidAmerican says it’s unlikely that refunds will be awarded customers, with the money, instead, going to offset a gas expense the utility says is underfunded.

More: MidAmerican hits 100% renewable energy. But Iowa needs more solar to hit benchmark, scientists say.

The Utilities Board said the settlement provides MidAmerican with a 9.6% return on equity. MidAmerican sought the increase to reflect higher costs to deliver natural gas to customers and maintain and improve its distribution system.

Last year, MidAmerican said most customers would see lower overall gas bills, even with the rate increase, “due to the steady decline of natural gas market prices — a separate line item that is not included in our base rates.”

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at [email protected] or 515-284-8457.

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