Montana Public Radio

Regulators Fine Helena Subdivision Utility For Water Service Interruptions

Dec 31, 2020

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.