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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - State regulators are launching an investigation into the recent spike in natural gas prices.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has scheduled a special meeting on Tuesday to hear from representatives of Minnesota's natural gas distribution companies. The list includes Minnesota Energy Resources, which serves as the natural gas utility in Rochester.

The utility companies are being asked to explain the reasons for the price spike, how it impacts customer bills, and the extent that customer service was affected. The State Commerce Department will also have representatives at the meeting to discuss the economic impact of the price fluctuations.

Minnesota U.S. Senator Tina Smith has called for a full investigation into what she termed "possible price gouging." The Associated Press is reporting Smith sent a letter to the Energy Department and two federal regulatory agencies concerning spikes on the spot market that elevated natural gas prices from around $3 dollars a week ago to over $1,000 per million BTU as temperatures plunged across most of the nation's midsection and the demand for the fuel soared.

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