ST. PAUL (AP) - The Minnesota Commerce Department wants state utility regulators to cut CenterPoint Energy's proposed natural gas rate increase almost in half.

The agency analyzes rate requests ahead of votes by the Public Utilities Commission. The Star Tribune reports Friday that CenterPoint, with 823,000 customers in Minnesota, is seeking approval of a $44 million rate increase.

The Commerce Department is recommending $21 million instead. The agency says the proposed 87 percent increase in CenterPoint's basic monthly charge for residential customers, from $9 to $15, would amount to "rate shock." Commerce says $9.50 a month should be sufficient.

The agency says CenterPoint's 2014 Minnesota revenue will be $884 million. That's $5.1 million more than the company predicts.

A CenterPoint spokeswoman says the company is evaluating the recommendations and will respond in December.