Retail Unbundling - Minnesota
|Status:The State has no unbundled services for residential customers.|
Overview: The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has been studying the restructuring and unbundling of retail natural gas sales for several years. In April 1995, Minnegasco (now CenterPoint Energy), the largest local distribution company in the State with 52 percent of the residential business, filed a proposal that included a plan to aggregate small customers who could then choose their natural gas supplier. The PUC rejected that proposal because of unaddressed concerns such as who, if anyone, would be the supplier of last resort, whether system reliability would be affected, and the amount and recovery method for stranded costs. The PUC convened a study group in October 1997 to investigate restructuring issues and in August 1998 directed the group to develop a statewide natural gas unbundling plan within a year. In May 1999, the PUC closed the natural gas unbundling investigation (docket number G-999/CI-99-687) to free the regulatory and energy participants to develop a comprehensive gas and electric utility restructuring/unbundling plan in time for consideration by the 2001 legislature. In September 2000, the Minnesota Department of Commerce noted that it was not in the public interest to restructure gas or electric utility regulation substantially at this time, but rather to place emphasis on energy reliability. New energy legislation passed in 2001 did not address natural gas unbundling, but instead focused on energy conservation, efficiency measures, and reliability.
According to the PUC, no further work has been done to develop retail gas unbundling programs in Minnesota. The fixed-bill programs being offered by the State's two largest gas utilities were suspended by the PUC in July 2007, following a complaint by the Minnesota Office of Attorney General that participating customers had paid substantially more than customers under standard rate plans. The suspension will remain in effect until the PUC "is satisfied that it is in the public interest to resume offering these programs." Neither utility plans to resume offering a fixed-bill program in the foreseeable future.
Legislation enacted in 2007 (the New Generation Energy Act of 2007) sets energy-savings goals for utilities in the State and allows one or more utilities to participate in a pilot program to assess the merits of decoupling, in which a utility’s revenue would be separate from its energy sales. The PUC developed criteria and standards for decoupling pilot projects in 2009 and ordered all utilities to file non-binding notices of intent regarding whether they plan to file a decoupling pilot plan by June 1, 2010, with all pilot proposals filed by December 30, 2011 (docket number E,G-999/CI-08-132).
|EIA State Data: In 2008, Minnesota had 1,413,162 residential and 130,847 commercial customers. They consumed approximately 139 and 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas, respectively. The average prices residential and commercial customers paid for natural gas from local distribution companies were $11.29 and $10.52 per thousand cubic feet, respectively.|