State briefs

This article was published November 2, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

The Associated Press

3 gas utilities in Arkansas raise winter rates

LITTLE ROCK-- Utility officials in Arkansas say winter rates have gone up because of an increase in costs to acquire natural gas.

CenterPoint Energy, Black Hills Energy and Arkansas Oklahoma Gas entered their new rates on Tuesday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Customers will see rate increases ranging from almost 2 percent to nearly 9 percent compared to last November.

The rates took effect Wednesday and will be in place through March 31.

CenterPoint had the largest hike. A residential bill will increase 8.73 percent compared with November of last year, which includes an energy efficiency surcharge the utility's commission approved, according to CenterPoint spokeswoman Alicia Dixon. CenterPoint is the largest gas utility in Arkansas with about 413,000 customers.

Black Hills Energy customers will see their monthly bills increase by 5.56 percent compared to last November, according to Rich Davis, manager of state government affairs. Davis notes that Black Hills, which has about 166,000 customers in northern Arkansas, acquired over the last year dry storage wells in the Arkansas River Valley near Ozark.

"This allows us to take gas off the interstate pipeline in the summertime when prices are the cheapest and put it into storage," Davis said. "When the weather gets cold and our customers have (higher) demand, we're drawing off that storage well instead of whatever the market price is. That's good for the customer."

Natural gas bills for Arkansas Oklahoma Gas' roughly 45,000 customers in the Fort Smith area will see an increase of 1.97 percent in their monthly bills.

James Williams, an energy economist who owns WTRG Economics near Russellville, said the cost of natural gas has dropped about 10 percent since last year. But he estimates that the cost will "end up being a little higher than last year through the winter."

The National Weather Service has projected that temperatures will be higher than average this winter, said John Lewis, senior forecaster at the service's office in North Little Rock.

Arkansas man dies

after invading home

MARION -- Authorities say a 19-year-old man was shot and killed after entering a woman's home in Marion, Arkansas.

According to the Crittenden County Sheriff's Office, ADT alarm company received a call early Sunday and made contact with an 80-year-old woman, who lives alone. The company called authorities in Marion and Crittenden County, who responded.

The woman told authorities the intruder entered her home forcefully and that she had ordered him to leave her home. She said she shot Cody Smith in self-defense after he advanced toward her.

The shooting is under investigation. No charges have been filed.

Former jail nurse

pleads not guilty

in inmate's death

TEXARKANA -- A former jail nurse in Texarkana has pleaded not guilty to felony manslaughter in the 2016 death of a 20-year-old diabetic inmate.

Prosecutors say that inmate Morgan Angerbauer banged on her cell door for hours and asked nurse Brittany Johnson to check her blood sugar. A probable-cause affidavit alleges that Johnson refused that request and said that jail staff, not inmates, decide when medical attention is needed.

Angerbauer died hours later on July 1, 2016, of diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs when there isn't enough insulin in the body.

Johnson was initially charged with misdemeanor negligent homicide but prosecutors later amended the charge to felony manslaughter. According to the Texarkana Gazette, Johnson pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the new charge and her trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 27.

State Desk on 11/02/2017
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