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Lansing, Mich. — Michigan regulators have authorized Consumers Energy to raise natural gas rates by $40 million annually, but customers should see a drop in their bill.

The average residential customer’s bill will fall by $1.69 a month, effective in May.

The Jackson-based utility had asked for a nearly $85 million rate increase last summer. It then self-implemented a $60 million hike in January.

But the Michigan Public Service Commission this week approved a settlement agreement that includes a rate hike that is 53 percent below what the utility requested. It’s a 1.6 percent residential increase over rates set in the last natural gas rate case.

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