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Industry Briefs

Hearings resumed Wednesday in New Mexico on a request from the state's two main energy industry groups that the state's "pit rule" be modified to make it more cost effective. An official with the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department indicated that additional hearings may be required by the Oil Conservation Commission (OCC). New Mexico's Independent Petroleum Association (IPA) and Oil and Gas Association (OGA) have continued to seek administrative changes to state rules for handling natural gas and oil drilling production waste (see Daily GPI, May 22). Earlier, IPA and OGA representatives told the OCC that their costs are rising to comply with the pit rule, and ranchers expressed environmental concerns. After five days of testimony in May, the OCC was taking additional input and that was expected to require additional hearings beyond the one now scheduled for Friday (June 22). A final determination by the OCC will not come up until about a month after hearings are concluded, according to a state resources department official.

The Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) on Wednesday approved rate settlements for Rapid City, SD-based Black Hills Corp.'s Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power utility covering more than $4 million in annual natural gas and electricity rate increases. A $1.6 million, or approximately 4.9%, increase in annual gas utility revenues was approved, along with a $2.7 million, or approximately 2.7%, increase in annual power revenues for the combination utility. Both increases will be effective July 1. Typical gas and electric residential utility customers can expect monthly increases of $3.72 and $3.17, respectively. Utility officials said this was the first increase in the utility's base rates in more than four years.

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