Natural gas provider in Arkansas wants rate hike

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Tens of thousands of Arkansas customers of Black Hills Energy, a firm headquartered in South Dakota, might see their monthly gas bills going up $15 if state regulators approve the company’s rate hike request.

Black Hills, with customers in 8 states including Arkansas, recently applied for a $44 million base rate hike increase from the Arkansas Public Service Commission. The company said it needed the increased revenue to recover infrastructure costs. Approval might mean another $15 a month on charges to the company’s customers.

“Over the last several years, we went from 3,500 to 4,000 new customers. And certainly, as customers grow, they put demand on the system. So we model that and account for it,” explained Eric Eyre, Black Hills Vice President. He explained the company already invested an estimated $130 million in the past two years in the reliability of supporting the poplation increase, most of it in northwest Arkansas.

“We’re mindful of the impact this will have on customers. And so we have done and will continue to do our best to mitigate those costs. We also have an obligation and responsibility to continue to invest in our system to make sure it’s safe and reliable,” Eyre said.

Black Hills has an estimated 184,000 customers in Arkansas in addition to 7,200 miles of transmission and distribution lines in the state. The company also serves 1.3 miillion customers in other states including Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.