NorthWestern Energy customers will see a slight decrease in their monthly bills beginning in October.
Typical residential customers will see a decrease of about $2.34 a month, according to the utility. The rate reduction stems from lower-than-expected costs during a 12-month period ending June 30. Montana’s Public Service Commission will take up the rate reduction sometime in the next year to determine whether the single-year rate decrease is adequate.
State law allows NorthWestern to adjust costs for a previous year, either by increasing rates or cutting them. This year, the adjustment is to the customer’s benefit. The utility over-collected by about $3.5 million for power it expected to purchase from some third party renewable energy sources. That money will be part of the credit NorthWestern proposes.
A year ago, the utility sought a $23.8 million single-year increase to recoup unexpected expenses from the second half of 2018 and first six months of 2018. Replacement power costs for a summer of mechanical problems at Colstrip Power Plant were among the expenses. The average residential customer experienced a rate increase of $37.08 to cover those expenses.
Montana’s utility regulator is about five weeks away from determining whether last year’s increase was appropriate.
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