BUTTE, Mont., Sept. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- NorthWestern Energy today filed a general electric rate review request with the Montana Public Service Commission, the first such request since 2009.
For a typical residential customer, the proposed increase would mean an average monthly bill increase of $6.37 per month, or about 7.4 percent. About 80 percent of NorthWestern's roughly 370,000 Montana customers are residential.
The rate request reflects the company's significant investment in its electric transmission and distribution system and customer-service initiatives. NorthWestern has invested in a diverse mix of electricity sources that balances clean energy production with affordable, reliable service.
"Since 2009, we have worked to reshape NorthWestern to meet the current and future needs of our customers," said Bob Rowe, NorthWestern Energy's CEO. "We have made significant investments in safe, reliable and even smarter energy infrastructure and developed a diverse portfolio of electric generation to increasingly provide clean, reliable and affordable energy. We are striving to give customers more choice and control over their energy service. We are asking for these rate changes to help us continue to position NorthWestern to provide the services and reliability that our customers expect."
Regulated electric prices are generally based on the cost of providing service. As investments in poles, substations or other infrastructure are made, or as costs go up, those costs are submitted to the Public Service Commission for review. As investments are depreciated on the books, or as costs go down, those savings also go to customers.
Key components of the rate request include:
An increase in requested revenue: NorthWestern has invested more than $850 million in its electric delivery system since 2009. The investments will help us better serve our customers for many years to come. Over the same period, NorthWestern has worked diligently to control operating costs but significant increases in Montana property taxes have financially affected our customers and the company.
Two Dot Wind Project: NorthWestern is seeking approval to include electricity generated at the Two Dot wind project in its portfolio used to serve Montana customers. NorthWestern bought the wind project for $18.5 million earlier this year. While the previous owner had a contract to sell its electric production to NorthWestern, our ownership will benefit customers through operational efficiencies and a lower cost structure.
New Approach to Private Solar: NorthWestern is proposing a more sustainable pricing structure for residential customers who generate some of their own electricity and sell it back to NorthWestern and its customers. This proposal creates a "demand charge" that better reflects the cost of providing service to future self-generating customers. These costs are currently paid by other customers. The proposal will not affect the roughly 2,000 NorthWestern residential customers who currently generate their own electricity.
Interim request: NorthWestern has also asked that the PSC grant interim, or temporary, prices to reflect part of the overall requested increase. The typical bill impact of the proposed interim rates for a residential customer using 750 kilowatt hours per month would be an increase of 2 percent, or about $1.75 per month.
A copy of the complete NorthWestern rate review filing will be posted at https://www.northwesternenergy.com/mt-rate-review.
About NorthWestern Energy (NWE)
NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 718,300 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at www.northwesternenergy.com.