Montana PSC Urges Change to Law Allowing Utilities to Pass Through Tax Increases to Rate Payers
Montana Dakota Utilities is joining Nortwestern Energy in using a Montana law to pass through property tax increase costs to rate payers. According to Public Service Commissioner Travis Kavulla, this act is unprecedented for MDU and, during a recent hearing, the PSC found a $150,000 mistake in MDU’s filing.
"Because of the very short timeline on these proceedings, the PSC basically stumbled across the fact that they were trying to include this cost," Kavulla said. "MDU had kind of hidden it within the lines of their application and the PSC is lucky to have discovered it. If they had not discovered it, that amount of money too would have been included in the rate increase and that amount would have been irreversible; one of the many problems with the law as it is written."
Kavulla argues that the law makes it easier for utilities to unjustly raise rates without oversight and is urging the Montana Legislator to change the law.
"Restaurants can charge whatever they want, gas stations can charge whatever they want, but we don't usually give monopolies with a captive customer base the ability to raise their own rates based on whatever they say they should be, and that, effectively, is what we have here," Kavulla said. "If consumers are concerned about this I recommend they call their legislator and ask them to support House Bill 189."
House Bill 189 is expected to be up for a vote in the Montana House before the end of the week.