NorthWestern Energy seeking large increases in rates

Home utility bills for the NorthWestern Energy customers are likely to increase $170 a year, possibly more, as the utility seeks general rate increases for power and natural gas.

Pending approval by Montana’s Public Service Commission, the first rate increases would start Oct. 1, with home electric bills increasing $14.18 a month for homes consuming 750 kilowatt hours. Base rates for natural gas would increase $1.60, with yet to be determined monthly rate adjustments layered on top of the amount.

However, those rate increases are temporary, intended to hold the utility over as it makes its case during the coming year for more lasting rate increases, which would be higher than the interim rates. In the end, the utility would like to increase rates $273.12 a year for electricity sold to residential customers consuming 750 kilowatt hours per month and $90.84 for natural gas sold the residential customers consuming 65 therms per month. Monthly, those increases for electricity and gas are $22.76 and $7.57 respectively.

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In its filing, NorthWestern recognizes the rate increases, 25.6% for residential electricity and 11.1% for residential natural gas, are substantial, though the utility asserts

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