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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 4, 2018                
CONTACT: Leah Mohr, deputy executive director, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201 or (605) 280-4327

Black Hills Energy customers to receive refund and lowering of rates following PUC action

PIERRE, S.D. – Black Hills Energy customers will receive a refund and a subsequent lowering of rates as a result of action by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission today. The PUC, at its regular meeting in Pierre on Sept. 4, 2018, voted to accept a settlement agreement presented by Black Hills Energy and PUC staff to pass along benefits of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Black Hills Energy customers will collectively receive a $7.67 million refund no later than October.
Additionally, customers will see a decrease in their variable charges and a slight increase in their monthly fixed charges, resulting in a net decrease to base rates of about $9 million beginning in January 2019.

According to Black Hills Energy, an average residential customer will receive an approximate $50 credit in October. Customers in other classes, industrial and commercial, for example, will receive different credit amounts. The refund will be made to those who were active customers as of July 31, 2018.

“The PUC made good on the promise made in December to ensure benefits of the federal tax cut be passed along to South Dakota consumers,” stated Commissioner Kristie Fiegen, chairperson of the PUC. “This provides stability to ratepayers and will make a real impact on families,” she stated.

Commissioner Chris Nelson commented on the comprehensive nature of the settlement. “The refund this fall and the reduction of base rates next winter combined with clear communication to customers will have a positive effect,” Nelson said.

Commissioner Gary Hanson, while not available for the commission meeting, has previously expressed his support for efforts by regulated utilities to pass along any tax savings to consumers. Additionally, he has lauded the leadership of Fiegen as she oversees the PUC proceedings related to the federal tax overhaul.

The refund and rate reduction approval for Black Hills Energy customers is the latest action by the PUC in the evaluation of the effect of federal tax changes in the rates paid by utility customers of the state’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities. Earlier this year, the commission accepted a settlement agreement from Xcel Energy and PUC staff that refunded $10,868,000 to Xcel Energy customers in August. Tax reform and rate discussions are ongoing between PUC staff and NorthWestern Energy, Otter Tail Power Co., Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., and MidAmerican Energy Co.

The Black Hills Energy docket can be viewed on the PUC’s website at, Commission Actions, Commission Dockets, Electric Dockets, 2018 Electric Dockets, EL18-029 – In the Matter of the Application of Black Hills Power Inc., dba Black Hills Energy for Approval of Its Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Proposal.

Related information, including comments filed by all investor-owned electric and natural utilities, can be found in docket GE17-003 - In the Matter of Staff’s Request to Investigate the Effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on South Dakota Utilities.