Duluth Chamber Forum Centers on Gas Rate Hike

By KBJR News 1

August 6, 2013 Updated Aug 6, 2013 at 7:02 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The city of Duluth hasn't increased natural gas rates since 2006, but that could soon change as the Public Utilities Commission prepares to vote on an increase that would do just that.

Tuesday members of the Commission and Public Works Department met with business leaders at the Duluth Chamber of Commerce's monthly Forum to discuss the rate increase.

The Public Utilities Commission is considering an increase of about three percent to the natural gas rate.

That could mean about $2.25 more a month for small residences and up to $488 more a month for large, industrial businesses.

Duluth Public Works Director, Jim Benning, says the natural gas system is in decent shape. He'd like to keep it that way with a number of projects aimed at keeping the system in working order, all of which require money.

"I don't want to come back ten years from now and say, 'Hey, guess what? The gas system is falling apart,'" Benning said.

City Councilors Jim Stauber and Jennifer Julsrud are on the Public Utilities Commission and will be voting on the increase later this month.

"You can't build a vibrant city on a crumbling infrastructure. You need a solid foundation," Julsrud said.

The Public Utilities Commission will vote on the increase during their meeting at 5:15 p.m. on August 20th in City Hall Chambers.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.