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NorthWestern seeks propane fee increase for Townsend customers

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NorthWestern Energy has filed with the Montana Public Service Commission for an interim rate increase that could hit about 64% overall for propane for nearly 600 Townsend customers to go into effect after June 1, the utility has announced, noting it is due to a higher market cost.

NorthWestern filed with the PSC on April 29, including a fact sheet, exhibits and other information. The proposed rates reflect current propane supply costs associated with propane plant usage and carrying costs and the Unreflected Propane Supply Cost Account balance (UPSCA), officials said.

The utility is proposing an increase from $1.153 per therm to $1.766 per therm from June 1 to Sept. 30, and a 7% increase to $1.889 per therm Oct. 1 Feb. 28, 2023, and $1.555 per therm during the March 1, 2023 to May 31, 2023 tracker period, NorthWestern officials said.

Jo Dee Black, NorthWestern Energy spokeswoman, said 600 customers in Townsend will be impacted, adding it will add an average of $30.49 to bills. Townsend is the only place where the utility provides propane. She said the rate for delivery and service remains unchanged.

She said the cost has gone down in the past if the cost of propane goes down.

Black said NorthWestern Energy has programs at northwesternenergy.com to help people with ways to conserve energy and resources if they want to budget energy costs.

She said the Public Service Commission is the authority to grant or deny the request. She said the rate will change June 1, but will not be final until the commission rules.

NorthWestern also said there was an overcollection of $22,471 from June 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021 and from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022, there was an undercollection of $7,020, which means there will be a credit in supply rates of $14,851.

The interim request and supporting documents can be examined at NorthWestern’s General Office, 11 E. Park St., Butte, at the office of the Montana Consumer Counsel, 111 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 1B, Helena; or at the office of the Commission, 1701 Prospect Ave. in Helena.

The Montana Consumer Counsel is available to aid in the representation of consumer interests in this matter, and its phone number is 406-444-2771.

Any response should be delivered to the commission at the above address as soon as possible or mailed to the Commission at P.O. Box 202601, Helena, MT 59620-2601.

Any portion of the interim adjustment approved by the commission, pending hearing and final decision, would, pursuant to 69-3-304, MCA, be subject to rebate or surcharge if the final decision in this docket is to approve a final revenue level which is different than the interim level.

Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.

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