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Listeners on the Morning Show were a little upset with recent NorthWestern utility bills.

One listener said that his normal bill was $45 for a mining office, but the bill showed an additional $75.

Utilities are always hard to understand for the rank and file ratepayer. We see the bill with a few cents here for this and a few cents there for that, but few really knows what each is, and even more importantly, is it a cost or a savings over the long haul?

Montana Property Taxes

We all feel the pinch from property taxes in Montana, but when you’re a business and taxes are increased that will eat into your bottom line.

Most business pass these costs on to the customers in the form of higher prices for goods and services. NorthWestern Energy is no exception.

When they’re hit with higher property taxes, they are allowed by state law to charge a portion of the property tax increase on to the ratepayer. But wait — don’t all price increases for utilities have to be approved by the Public Service Commission?

Public Service Commission – The PSC

While many rate increases must go through the commission, state law exempts NorthWestern Energy from getting a PSC approval. I found that under current law up to 60 percent of the property taxes on NorthWestern Energy can be passed on to the rate payer.

Some Final Thoughts

Utilities are one of those things most people can’t do without. We need gas and electric, especially in sub-zero temperatures.

Some rate increases are justified and some are not. As of this writing, I don’t know if NorthWestern is passing the entire 60 percent on to ratepayers or if it will be less.

Any increase in a necessity hurts some people. It would seem that a reduction in government spending might be more helpful than a consistent raising of taxes just because you can.

What are your thoughts?


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