PSC Could Reconsider Hike In Missoula Water Rates - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

PSC Could Reconsider Hike In Missoula Water Rates

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MISSOULA -

Water customers in Missoula may soon see a spike in their rates. It all depends on the outcome of a meeting set for Tuesday. The Montana Public Service Commission is set to review its decision to approve a rate increase for Mountain Water.

As the Yoder family decorates their home in Christmas lights, they're expecting to see a much higher electricity bill.

"We enjoy putting up lights, my son really enjoys putting up decorations," said Tim Yoder.

Soon they could be expecting a hike on another bill.

"You know its going to affect our outcome, our future. Money is tight right now, it's a tough economy," Yoder said.

The Montana Public Service Commission recently approved a jump in water rates for Mountain Water customers in Missoula. The commission is reconsidering that decision on Tuesday at the request of the Montana Consumer Counsel. The counsel is arguing the commission didn't consider Mountain's promise and ability to provide lower rates to customers since it was purchased by the Carlyle Group a few years ago.

"We had our position and this is what the commission came up with," said Paul Schulz with the Montana Consumer Counsel.

Part of the reason for the higher rates, is a 9.8% increase in the return on equity, or ROE. That's the amount of net income returned to the water company as part of it's interest. Mountain Water proposed a ROE of 10%, but the counsel recommends lowering the rate to 8.75%, because of Mountain Water's ability to secure low interest rates in the past.

"Certainly we would love if the commission sided with us on all issues, but of course that doesn't typically happen," Schulz said.

Commissioner Bob Lake said although he can't say much, he said at the time the decision to increase rates was made, the commission thought the higher rate seemed fair for customers to pay.

"We're going to look at the request for reconsideration and see if the information we based our original decision off of was adequate," Lake said.

As for Yonder, he said he's seen water rates go up and down too many times in the 30 years he's lived in Missoula.

"I really don't think it's necessary," he said.

The meeting takes place at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday in Helena. There the commission will decide to go through with its current plans, or decide to come up with a new one.

 

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