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By Keila Szpaller, Daily Montanan

The electric bill for residential customers would be even higher — 28% — than earlier stated at a utility hearing if the Montana Public Service Commission approves a settlement agreement in the rate case, according to a new exhibit Wednesday.

The hearing on NorthWestern Energy’s rate case is underway this week before the Public Service Commission.

The new exhibit was a calculation presented on the second day of the hearing on the power utility’s request for more money, a hike that’s been characterized as “unprecedented” and “frustrating.”

The new estimate in the exhibit said in August 2022, residential customers paid $91.27 for their electric bill, and if the PSC approves a settlement that’s part of the case, they would pay $116.63, a 27.7% increase.

Throughout the day of testimony before the Public Service Commission, lawyers asked witnesses questions to put costs and a proposed settlement in different contexts.

Members of the public — and a climate scientist who shared in a Nobel Peace Prize — said NorthWestern isn’t taking climate change into consideration. And commissioners quizzed witnesses about impacts to consumers and climate science.


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