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Montana electricity regulators dismiss utility rate increase request

 NorthWestern Energy headquarters in Butte,  Montana.
Nora Saks
Montana Public Radio
NorthWestern Energy headquarters in Butte, Montana.

Montana electric utility regulators won’t allow NorthWestern Energy to increase what it charges for power outside of the regular process for seeking the change.

The Montana Public Service Commission dismissed NorthWestern Energy’s request without discussion. NWE had been asking to change its base rate, a stable dollar amount the utility charges in addition to the fees it collects to recover costs of providing electricity.

The Montana Consumer Counsel, which advocates for electricity customers, filed for the dismissal. Acting Consumer Counsel Jason Brown says NorthWestern’s request out of the regular process could upset the balance of financial responsibility shared between utility and customer.

“Utilities can always request rate increases to their base utility rates through general rate cases, and in general rate cases, we look at the whole utility comprehensively to ensure that rates are reasonable,” Brown says.

Once the decision is finalized, customers will see a refund from an interim rate increase regulators granted the utility in July. A NorthWestern Energy spokesperson says the utility is disappointed in the Public Service Commission’s decision.

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