Colorado regulators have approved a settlement for Rapid City, SD-based Black Hills Corp.‘s natural gas utility operations in the state, allowing a small rate increase amounting to less than 1% annually. Black Hills/Colorado Gas Utility Co. put the recommended rate hike into effect Monday, the first base rate increase for the utility since April 2009. Although the increase amounts to only $174,000 more in revenue annually, or an 0.83% increase, Black Hills officials said the approved rates allow it to recover the nearly $30 million the utility has invested in its infrastructure since 2008, along with a 9.6% return on equity. The increase was hammered out in a settlement earlier this year among the utility, Colorado Public Utilities Commission staff and the state Consumer Counsel Office.

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