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Rate hike for CenterPoint approved

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May 9, 2014 at 5:26 am

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota regulators have approved a rate hike for CenterPoint Energy but not as much as the natural gas company sought.

The permanent rate increase for the Houston-based company's 823,000 Minnesota customers is less than the 4.9 percent interim increase authorized last October. As a result, most customers will see a small refund later this year.

Overall, CenterPoint had sought a 5 percent increase, but an administrative law judge recommended about 3.7 percent. The final increase likely will be around 4 percent.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission also ordered a change in how CenterPoint's customers are billed.

On a 3-2 vote, the commission ordered a three-year billing experiment aimed at strengthening CenterPoint's energy conservation efforts and smoothing out swings in customers' bills. The program would not begin until July 2015.

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