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Minnesota to investigate skyrocketing natural gas prices

Gas became 50 times more expensive in mid-February.

Posted: Feb 23, 2021 6:41 PM
Updated: Feb 23, 2021 8:08 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The State of Minnesota is going to investigate the economic impact of the natural gas price spike during the mid-February winter storm that hit much of the nation.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously Tuesday to open a formal investigation. Though Minnesota didn’t experience the power outages seen in other states, particularly Texas, the PUC says it has learned some utilities had to buy natural gas at prices at least 50 times higher than average between February 12 and February 17.

“In this investigation, Commerce’s role is to protect Minnesota residents and businesses, and to provide assistance if utility bills are high,” says Commerce Temporary Commissioner Grace Arnold. “Our review of utilities’ natural gas purchases as part of this investigation will ensure utilities were prudent. Households struggling to pay utility bills now can apply for energy assistance and weatherization programs offered through the Department of Commerce.”

At a hearing Tuesday, the regulated gas utilities which serve most of Minnesota said those unexpected prices increases will not show up immediately in customer bills. The utilities say higher energy bills may be delayed by several months pending approval by the PUC.

“Our infrastructure provided warmth and electricity to Minnesotans throughout the severe weather event. We are just learning the economic fallout from this storm,” says PUC Chair Katie Sieben. “As regulators, we will use every tool available to mitigate the impact to Minnesota utility customers. And, we will work cooperatively with state and federal partners to address the very real consequences this storm may have on utility customers’ pocketbooks. In the midst of this COVID pandemic, the last thing needed are additional bills hitting Minnesota families and businesses.”

Governor Tim Walz issued the following statement on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s investigation:

“I, like so many around the nation, witnessed how last week’s cold weather led to a grid failure that devastatingly left families in Texas without reliable access to power and heat for days. Thankfully, Minnesotans did not experience prolonged energy shortages last week, a testament to the benefits of Minnesota’s effective energy planning and regulation and the skilled work of our frontline utility workers. Even so, it is clear the events of last week will be felt in our state. While we are just beginning to understand the implications of last week’s spike in natural gas prices, it is important that we work together and proactively to mitigate the impact on families and small businesses."

"I am glad the Public Utilities Commission is opening an investigation, and my administration, through the Department of Commerce, will advocate for Minnesota ratepayers during that process. Our administration is also working with municipal utilities as they navigate the challenges posed by last week’s events. This national natural gas price spike will likely require Federal assistance to address, and as such I will be reaching out to our federal delegation and the Biden Administration to push for additional resources for Minnesota families and businesses—many of whom are already struggling financially from the COVID-19 pandemic—to help reduce the burden of energy costs.”

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 592750

Reported Deaths: 7376
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1226641731
Ramsey51369875
Dakota45906452
Anoka41713438
Washington26899283
Stearns22238222
St. Louis17758304
Scott17275124
Wright16034140
Olmsted1324298
Sherburne1170887
Carver1049145
Clay815792
Rice8056107
Blue Earth750441
Crow Wing665089
Kandiyohi655783
Chisago599751
Otter Tail574978
Benton570297
Goodhue478072
Douglas467875
Mower465732
Winona454550
Itasca437556
McLeod423659
Isanti421364
Morrison419260
Nobles407748
Beltrami395559
Steele388315
Polk384168
Becker380253
Lyon360651
Carlton345254
Freeborn341729
Pine328622
Nicollet326143
Brown305440
Mille Lacs304553
Le Sueur291723
Todd282132
Cass272828
Meeker256340
Waseca236222
Martin230632
Roseau209019
Wabasha20533
Hubbard189341
Dodge18493
Renville180243
Redwood174337
Houston171816
Cottonwood164923
Fillmore156310
Wadena155922
Pennington153619
Faribault152319
Chippewa152238
Kanabec144626
Sibley143510
Aitkin134936
Watonwan13279
Rock128219
Jackson121812
Pipestone115426
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11026
Murray10639
Swift105218
Stevens91311
Marshall88117
Clearwater86816
Koochiching83315
Wilkin81512
Lake81119
Lac qui Parle75322
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5768
Mahnomen5499
Norman5399
Unassigned50093
Kittson48622
Red Lake3967
Traverse3705
Lake of the Woods3253
Cook1640

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 367061

Reported Deaths: 5938
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57642625
Linn20869335
Scott20044241
Black Hawk15813308
Woodbury15132228
Johnson1448383
Dubuque13374208
Dallas1118298
Pottawattamie11122168
Story1061748
Warren577988
Clinton555693
Cerro Gordo540389
Sioux514474
Webster512293
Marshall483075
Muscatine481199
Des Moines457166
Wapello4301122
Buena Vista424840
Jasper419272
Plymouth401280
Lee375855
Marion362575
Jones298957
Henry291837
Carroll285952
Bremer284560
Crawford266140
Boone264834
Benton256655
Washington253750
Dickinson248443
Mahaska230351
Jackson222142
Clay215625
Kossuth215364
Tama209771
Delaware209641
Winneshiek196934
Page192722
Buchanan191332
Cedar190023
Hardin185643
Fayette185141
Wright184637
Hamilton179949
Harrison179673
Clayton169556
Butler164934
Madison162319
Mills162222
Floyd160942
Cherokee158938
Lyon158041
Poweshiek154734
Allamakee151451
Iowa148824
Hancock148234
Winnebago142431
Calhoun138513
Cass138554
Grundy136333
Emmet134340
Jefferson132435
Shelby131037
Sac130319
Union128333
Louisa128149
Appanoose127949
Mitchell126342
Chickasaw124116
Guthrie121530
Franklin120521
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112823
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100124
Unassigned9740
Keokuk95931
Monroe95129
Ida90335
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis83024
Monona82730
Osceola78716
Greene77710
Lucas77223
Worth7478
Taylor66012
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Ringgold55824
Van Buren55818
Wayne53923
Audubon51010
Adams3384
Rochester
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Mason City
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Albert Lea
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Austin
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