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2024 Montana Primary elections

Regulators Fine Helena Subdivision Utility For Water Service Interruptions

Montana regulators on Tuesday found a private water utility shut off water service without justification to residents of a Helena subdivision this summer.

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a $1,000 fine and will further investigate North Star Development’s emergency interruption of service in August that affected some of the subdivision’s roughly 280 households.

Residents earlier this year told commissioners random service interruption was a regular occurrence during the summer.

Commissioner Roger Koopman at this week’s meeting spoke in favor of examining whether the utility is able to provide sufficient service to its residents and how to improve service going forward.

"I really, really, really agree with further investigation. We need to get our sharp eyes out there," Koopman said.

Doug Peterson with North Star earlier this year told the commission that the utility gave notice, and that the interruption was due to stress on the system from residents watering lawns.

The PSC said the utility had at least five years to address the higher summer demand and limited water supply.

The commission will suspend the fine for a year if the utility complies with its investigation and avoids future shut offs. Peterson declined to comment.

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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