HELENA - Electricity bills will increase and natural gas bills will drop for thousands of Montana Power Co. customers, as a result of action the state Public Service Commission took Tuesday.
The PSC approved a permanent $16 million annual increase in electric rates and a $4.27 million increase in natural gas rates charged by the Butte-based utility.
But that does not reflect the changes consumers will see in their monthly bills, because the commission last fall approved interim rate increases of $14.5 million for electricity and $5.28 million for gas.
Tuesday's action means the electricity bills of 285,000 Montana Power customers will go up another $1.5 million a year beginning Tuesday. Natural gas bills for 150,000 MPC customers will dip by about $1 million.
The monthly bill for an average user of 750 kilowatts of electricity will climb 32 cents, or 0.6 percent, beyond what already was being paid. The average monthly bill for a natural gas user will decrease by 43 cents.
With the rate case concluded, the average effect of the total electric rate increase is $2.47 per month, or 5.2 percent. The net increase in the typical gas bill will be $1.82 per month, or 3.3 percent, said Pat
Corcoran, a Montana Power vice president.
The rate increases were far short of what the company had requested. The PSC granted the utility 41.5 percent of the $38.5 million electric rate increase sought last August, and 35.4 percent of its requested gas rate increase.