After long delays for no apparent reason, the Public Service Commission (PSC) finally issued its ruling on NorthWestern Energy’s request for a 28% electricity rate increase for residential customers. No big surprise. . . they granted the request.

All five Commissioners supported the rate increase (including Great Falls’ own Randy Pinocci, who must have made bail on his felony witness tampering charge). All five Commissioners are Republicans. Unfortunately it appears the PSC has become a feather bed for Republican activists and politicians with its $100,000 plus salary and generous benefits package which includes health insurance and retirement. None of them will have any problem paying the increased rates.

We’re not going to rehash the details of the case here. But here are a couple of takeaways.

This rate increase falls heavily on residential ratepayers and lets other “customer classes” (that’s businesses and corporations) off the hook.

Despite NorthWestern’s claims, this is a 28% increase. Don’t be fooled by the wiggle words the Company is using to minimize the size of the increase.

This increase is not because of taxes.

For details of the case, readers can follow this link to an editorial which ran back in June.