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Attorney General calls on Public Utilities Commission to disapprove Minnesota Power's request for $73 million interim electric rate hike

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Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has called on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ("PUC") to disapprove Minnesota Power's recent request to raise electric service rates $73 million on an interim basis beginning January 1, 2010.

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On November 2, 2009 Minnesota Power filed a rate increase request with the PUC in which it asked the PUC to allow it to increase rates over $80 million and to increase rates $73 million on an interim basis beginning January 1, 2010. Minnesota law allows the PUC to deny a utility's request to raise rates on an interim basis during the pendency of a rate hearing if "exigent circumstances exist."

On November 1, 2009, the PUC allowed Minnesota Power to increase electricity rates by $20.4 million. The Attorney General said that the PUC should deny Minnesota Power's request to raise rates on an interim basis and should find that "exigent circumstances exist" in light of the company's recent "blockbuster" rate hike, the high levels of unemployment, the downturn in the economy, and the fact that citizens are entering the cold weather months.

"As we enter the winter heating season, our citizens are struggling with a tough economy and high unemployment rates. The company filed this $73 million rate increase request before the ink even dried on its last $20 million, blockbuster rate hike. The PUC should not allow the company to jack up rates on individuals and small businesses during these troubled financial times, before it even proves the rates are necessary," said Attorney General Swanson.

The PUC will hold a hearing on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 on Minnesota Power's request to raise rates on an interim basis. Citizens who object to the interim rate increase may let the PUC know of their objections before Tuesday's hearing as follows:

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

121 Seventh Place East

Suite 350

St. Paul, MN 55101

(651) 296-0406/(800)657-3782 (phone)

(651) 297-7073 (fax)

consumer.puc@state.mn.us (email)

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