The Fate Of The Montana Energy Consumer Lies With The MPSC
Our Northwestern Energy bills in Montana have a very good chance of going up. Way up. I've been wanting to do something on this for awhile, but when I tried to research it, all of the articles used terms and such that I just couldn't make heads or tails of.
I ran across an op-ed from Ken Toole in The Flathead Beacon, that spelled it out in such a way someone like me could understand. Before I get into the numbers, I want you to know he's against it. I couldn't find a write-up from anyone who was for the rise in the rates of consumers.
Who Is Affected By The Increase?
It looks like just average consumers. We can expect our electric bills to be 28% higher than last year. That seems like a lot to me. For me, that would be a $19.10 increase every month (that it isn't super cold or freakishly hot) resulting in $229 more a year.
Large business is excluded due to negotiations. The utility, the state, and large customers got together and decided that the little people could take the entire rate increase.
Is There Anyone Looking Out For Us Little Guys?
The Montana Public Service Commission. Toole didn't speak too highly of the members citing they were all Republicans that had a long history of supporting corporations. I honestly don't know how that plays out for us little guys, but he did put in a quote from a PSC Commissioner Annie Bukacek that I think needs repeating:
“This historic unprecedented increase that people are talking about, it’s $25 to $30 a month. That’s the cost of three to four dozen eggs.”
The reason I included her quote is because I don't think she'd feel the sting of a $20 increase as she makes over $100,000 a year AND has a medical practice on the side.
One thing Toole did point out that is a bright spot for the consumer, several of the commissioners have made it clear they are not friends of utility companies. There are hopes those commissioners may bring others along that will make a majority.
When Does The Increase Go Into Affect?
It has yet to make it past the MPSC, so there is no set date.
All in all, I think this comes down to people who make enough money not to worry about things like utility bills (except at their huge and profitable corporations) making decisions for people like us, when they don't know what it's like to BE us. After all, it's only the cost of 3-4 dozen eggs. 2 years ago, that would have been the cost of 15 dozen eggs. Those things, the difference in a price of a dozen eggs, should be taken into consideration before making JUST GETTING BY more difficult for the average consumer.