A Colorado regulatory judge has recommended Black Hills Corp.’s multi-state efforts to consolidate natural gas operations into a single utility be denied.

Black Hills, which has had plans approved in other states, is pushing back against Colorado’s proposed denial, CEO Linn Evans said on a conference call with analysts last Friday. If necessary, the issue will be re-filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The utility has filed exceptions to the regulatory process that would streamline costs and operations, and benefit customers across the board, Evans said. The filings address both the proposed denial and questions raised by various intervenors in the case.

“Consolidation is the absolute right thing to do,” said Evans, noting that a previous approval in Wyoming, for example, streamlines both the regulatory commission’s and utility efforts. Colorado should soon follow suit, he said. “If not, we’ll make another request in yet another application.”

Evans thinks there is still time for a PUC decision and consolidated rates to take effect in Colorado, as requested, on March 1.

In 2016 Colorado regulators stopped Black Hills six-state effort to create a utility cost-of-service natural gas reserve program.

Black Hills reported net 4Q2019 income from continuing operations of $69.2 million ($1.13/share), compared with $87.8 million ($1.51) for the same period in 2018. For 2019, net income was $199.3 million ($3.28/share), compared with $265.3 million ($4.78) in 2018.