In another step to consolidate its multiple natural gas utilities in three states, Rapid City, SD-based Black Hills Corp. asked the Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) to review proposed rates for affiliates in the state it wants to combine.

Through a corporate-wide “simplification” effort, Black Hills has already asked the PSC to approve the consolidation of four gas utilities in the state under a new company, Black Hills Wyoming Gas LLC. A decision on that request is expected later this month. The rate review proposal is subject to approval of the consolidation.

Black Hills requested a $16.1 million increase in overall revenues to recover its investments in safety, reliability and system integrity in Wyoming, including $49 million last year and a planned $106 million this year. The latter includes the $54 million Natural Bridge pipeline.

Black Hills also is asking the PSC to approve an integrity rate adjustment to recover the costs of ongoing safety and maintenance work on the gas system in the state that includes 6,000 miles of transmission and distribution pipelines.

There is a particular focus on the replacement of higher risk pipeline segments as part of improving overall system safety and reliability.

In recent years, as Black Hills sold off its exploration and production business, the company has pursued the consolidation of its natural gas utilities in three of the eight states where it operates -- Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

The company more than doubled its utility customers when it acquired SourceGas Holding LLC four years ago, and since then has added 425,000 gas utility customers in four states and a 512-mile intrastate gas transmission pipeline in Colorado.