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Utility Regulators Issue Rare, Shocking Regulation to Protect Consumers

Plus we lose a comic shop, gain some 'Weird Al' dates, and sputter across the finish line in today's Flyover.

We got this image of a gas range from CenterPoint’s exhilarating Facebook page.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily noontime(ish) digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

PUC Softens Attempt to Make MN Foot the TX Ice Storm Bill

Look, it’s hard to make news on utility pricing sexy. But we’re gonna try, because this is pretty unusual, and most of us have a gas bill we gotta budget for year-round. Last month, CenterPoint Energy requested a rate hike that would have added about $7 to our bill monthly. The reason? Basically the company mismanaged resources during last year’s deep freeze in Texas, and ended up with a $108 million dollar bill. Yesterday, in a very unexpected move, the Public Utilities Commission denied the company’s request for a whopping 14.2% interim rate hike, telling them to make do with a mere 7.1% increase for Minnesota customers. "I am very concerned about rate shock among residential customers," said commissioner Joe Sullivan at yesterday’s meeting. So, CenterPoint is going to have to come up with another way to make back money spent on that winter storm spike. Maybe it’s already in the bank? In 2021 the company reported a $438 million operating income in the second quarter and $363 million in the first quarter of 2022. The new price gauge is coming to you on January 1. Happy New Year!

‘Rapacious’ Groveland Tap Allegedly Boots Comic Shop, Hair Salon

After nearly four decades in business at St. Clair and Fairview Avenues in St. Paul, Uncle Sven's Comic Shoppe closed for good late last month. Ditto for neighboring (and wonderfully named) hair salon Curl Up & Dye. A "rapacious landlord" forced the closures, a comic strip making the rounds on Nextdoor alleges. The neighborhood reaction? Mostly pissed! The landlord in question would likely be David Burley, owner of the building and its anchor business, Groveland Tap, according to county records; Burley’s Blue Plate Restaurant Co. also includes this portfolio of establishments. One could easily summon a Star Tribune commenter's voice and note, accurately, that landlords have the autonomy to renew or not renew their tenant’s leases. But we’ll summon Racket voice and say it sucks to lose neat, unique small businesses to profit-hungry restaurant chains. The owners of Uncle Sven’s did not respond to requests for comment; their inventory will be absorbed by sister shop Source Comics & Games in Roseville.

Ridiculously Long 'Weird Al' Tour Includes 3 MN Stops

“Weird Al” Yankovic had a blast during his 2018 Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, which featured fresh setlists each night and surplus deep-cuts. So much so that the beloved musical comic just unveiled details for 2022’s The Unfortunate Return of the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, a 133-date (!) trek that’ll include dates in Duluth (July 11, Symphony Hall), Mankato (July 23, Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center), and Minneapolis (July 24, State Theatre). “I’ve loved doing every single incarnation of my live show, but honestly the ‘Vanity’ tour is the most fun I’ve ever had on stage,” Yankovic said Friday via press release. “So I’ve been dying to get back out there and torture everybody with it once again!” Hopefully the notably unfunny global pandemic doesn’t wreak any havoc on Al’s ambitious itinerary. Click here for ticket details. 

Old Hotel Becoming New Hotel

So it goes, such is life, the only constant is change, etc., et. al., whatever. Look, if it feels like today's Flyover is running outta gas, that's because it's an extremely slow news today. So we pray you care about this final blurb that tells the aggregated tale of how the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Minneapolis is being transformed into a Hotel Indigo boutique hotel, the Star Tribune reports. Will the property from 1962 undergo a $25 million renovation at the hands of new Wisconsin-based owner Kothe Real Estate Partners? You better believe it. It's unclear how a 218-room hotel can be classified as boutique when new parent company IHG takes over, but pro-biz zealot Steve Cramer of the Minneapolis Downtown Council sure seems jazzed. Welp, see ya!

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