Missoula Water Utility Ownership to Begin With at Least a Six Percent Rate Increase, Says PSC
The Montana Public Service Commission will be washing its hands of any rate setting procedures with Missoula’s Mountain Water Company after the city seizes the water system through eminent domain.
According to PSC Public Information Officer Eric Sell, past settlement agreements with Liberty Utilities will still apply.
"We did reach a settlement with Liberty Utilities recently to send $150,000 in a replacement for penalties to the Human Resource Council in Missoula, and that will all continue and still go forward," Sell said. "But as soon as the city takes over, the PSC will no longer be involved in any kind of rate regulation."
It also appears that the city of Missoula plans to wash its hands of rates that were set by the Public Service Commission, including a recent rate agreement that lowered the price. Sell says that Missoula Chief Administrative Officer Dale Bickell has expressed his intent not to retain a PSC negotiated rate cut.
"The rates will be set by the city of Missoula, the city council, and whatever other structure that they set up," Sell said. "I do think it is interesting to note, based off of news reports that I've seen, the rates that they will be operating under will not include the $1.1 million reduction in rates that the PSC approved back in May, so they're already starting off with a six percent increase in rates."
It is unclear when Missoula will actually take control of the water system. So far, the checks have not been cashed, but it is likely to occur within the next eight months.