Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. has declared war on its residential and business energy consumers. We find ourselves in “shock and awe” at the 21.1 percent electric rate increase proposed. If granted by the Montana Public Service Commission, the new rate will go into effect Dec. 2016.
MDU power company, which has the monopoly on our gas and electric supply, is asking for an increase of $11.8 million which translates into the 21 percent overall increase in rates. The last electric rate increase was implemented Sept. 2011, a short four years ago, with an overall increase of 6.2 percent. When MDU representatives were questioned at the Sept. 25, 2015 public input session held in Miles City, they stated they work on a five year projection period and future increases are on the horizon as well.
MDU’s motto is “In the Community to Serve”. My question is to serve whom? Definitely not the elderly or disabled on a fixed income. Surely not the “working class poor” which, although, are working a 40+ week can’t keep up with the rising cost of living on a paycheck reflecting an income slightly above minimum wage. Does MDU have the best interest of the local business owner, the community hospital, public administration buildings at heart? With proposed energy costs rising across the board prepare yourselves for increases in the cost of food, clothing, medical costs, car repairs … the list goes on. As local business absorbs the higher cost of utilities, the costs may be passed on to you the consumer.
MDU has enticed their investors with projections of 10 percent returns. Is this at the consumer’s expense? The company has spent $118.3 million dollars since the last electric rate increase in 2011. How often is this conglomerate audited? Are these expenditures warranted? Perhaps budgeting is an issue? A sudden increase of the magnitude of 21 percent is a far cry from the 6.2 percent we saw in 2011.
We should all be aware, if not concerned, about rising costs proposed by any monopoly powerhouse which has their hand on the very thermostat of our home or business.
Get involved. Now is the time to speak out. Let your concerns be heard before the Feb. 2016 hearing which will either grant or deny this outrageous proposal. Contact the Montana Public Service Commission before this vital decision is made. Let them know we do not want electric rate increases. We cannot afford to “shock and awe” our very own citizens.
** The Public Service Commissioners are elected officials who are elected to serve as the “buffer” between you, the consumer, and the monopoly utility company for our state. The PSC’s first concern should be with the people. Let them know how they can best serve the interest of their constituents.
Public Service Commissioners are listed and chosen at the bottom of your voting ballot
Montana Public Service Commission, 1701 Prospect Ave., P.O. Box 202601, Helena, MT 59620, 406-444-6199; fax 406-444-7618; psc.mt.gov.
s/Sherry R. Vogel