The Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved yet another utility rate hike. The PSC is recommending a rate hike of over 9% for Montana Dakota Utilities, which means customers can expect their energy bills to go up just as summer starts to wind down. Facing wage stagnation and an expected 40% property tax increase, many Montanans may well be forced to choose between paying their energy bills or going cold this winter.
The entirely Republican PSC has consistently voted to allow NorthWestern energy to raise their rates as well. Recently, Northwestern Energy reached a settlement in a lawsuit against their “historic” requested rate increase of over 25%. This increase would primarily affect residential properties and small businesses, the two groups the PSC has repeatedly thrown under the bus. Homeowners who use Northwestern energy can expect their utility bills to increase another 28%.
Members of the PSC are elected, and the Great Falls region is represented by Randy Pinocci. When he’s not sleeping on the job, Pinocci has continuously voted to increase energy costs for Montanans. In fact, in 2021 Great Falls customers faced an increase of over 40% for their heating costs. Meanwhile, Pinocci is being paid over $100,000 a year of our tax money while voting to empty our wallets. There are seemingly other benefits of Pinocci’s position as well. Both Pinocci’s wife and daughter were recently hired by Sandra Merchant at the Clerk and Recorder’s office. While we cannot yet prove nepotism, it seems highly suspicious that both positions would go to family members of an elected Public Service Commissioner. As Randy Pinocci reminds us time and time again, political corruption is profitable business in Montana.
Read our previous pieces about Pinocci here:
Read about the new rate increase here:
Read about the Northwestern Energy lawsuit here: