- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is allowing NorthWestern Energy to raise its electric rates by 15.5 percent, the first such increase since 1981.

The three-person panel approved the increase of about $16 a month for a typical residential customer during its regular meeting in Pierre.

The rates take effect when the Big Stone Generating Station Air Quality Control System goes online. That date is expected to be Jan. 1.

NorthWestern Energy filed its request for a 20.2 percent rate increase with the PUC in December 2014. The company implemented interim rates based on their initial request on July 1.

Because the final rate increase is lower than the interim rate increase, NorthWestern Energy will have to refund the difference to customers, plus interest, no later than April.

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