CS Masthead

Public Service Commission To Review MDU’s Request For 21.1 Percent Rate Increase

The Montana Public Service Commission will review a request from Montana-Dakota Utilities for an $11.8 million, or 21.1 percent, rate increase for its approximately 25,000 customers in eastern Montana. MDU filed the “rate case” on June 25.
The increase to the average MDU ratepayer is estimated to be about $14.80 per month. The Montana PSC must by law issue an order on the rate case within 270 days after MDU filed the request. MDU’s last general electric rate review was in 2011, when the Montana PSC approved an increase of just over 6 percent.
“The increasing regulation of energy production proposed by the federal government has concerned me ever since I was elected to the Commission,” said PSC District 2 Commissioner Kirk Bushman, who represents Custer County. “Utilities like MDU will have to continue to invest millions to meet new federal requirements, and I expect utilities will continue to request larger rate increases than they have in years past as a result of these costly regulations. The Montana PSC will most assuredly review the proposal by Montana-Dakota Utilities to determine if it meets all the necessary standards, including providing long-term benefit to Montana-ratepayers.
Public Service Commission Vice Chairman Travis Kavulla represents northeastern Montana, including Sidney, Glendive, Plentywood and Wolf Point where MDU electric customers are located. He said, “We will review the request to determine if the utility took the most cost effective approach to supply their customers with energy.”
MDU’s application asks the Commission to authorize a 10 percent return for the capital invested by the company’s shareholders. In addition to increasing the per-kilowatt-hour charge for energy, it would also increase the fixed monthly charge. MDU is also asking the Commission to approve additional “rate riders” on customers’ bills related to environmental and transmission costs. It also includes a proposed revision to the net-metering tariff under which customers who generate their own electricity are credited for excess production.
To view Montana-Dakota Utilities’ news release regarding the rate increase request, visit http://www.montana-dakota.com/utility-menu/news.

Eastern Montana Veterans Stand Down To Be In Sidney

The sixth annual Eastern Montana Veterans Stand Down will be held at the Richland County Events Center in Sidney this year on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The event’s primary focus is to connect homeless or at-risk veterans with services to assist them with their daily struggles.
However, the stand down is open to all who have served.

Property Owners To Receive Appraisal Notices

The Montana Department of Revenue is mailing out classification and appraisal notices to all owners of residential, commercial, industrial, agriculture and forest land properties, with the department’s determination of a property’s market and taxable values.
“We ask you to review the information thoroughly,” said Mike Kadas, director of the Montana Department of Revenue. “Although this is not a tax bill, it is important information that your county treasurer’s office will use when calculating your property tax bill.”
New this year, property owners can access additional details about their property characteristics and values online by visiting revenue.mt.gov/property-assessment.
If property owners disagree with the department’s determination, they can submit a Form AB-26, request for informal classification and appraisal review, to the department. The Form AB-26 must be submitted within 30 days from the date on the classification and appraisal notice. To obtain a Form AB-26, property owners can contact their local department office located in each county or go online to revenue.mt.gov/appeal-process.
Instead of submitting a Form AB-26 for an informal review, property owners may choose to make a formal appeal directly to the county tax appeal board, also within 30 days of the notice date. However, the department does encourage taxpayers to file a Form AB-26 as most property taxpayer concerns are resolved informally with the department through the AB-26 process.
Montana law requires the department to send a classification and appraisal notice to property owners at the beginning of each appraisal cycle and whenever a change in ownership, classification or value has occurred. Under new state law, residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial properties are now classified and appraised every two years. The reappraisal cycle for forest land remains at six years.
The public can find contact information for local Department of Revenue offices by visiting revenue.mt.gov/contact-us or by calling toll free (866) 859-2254.

Faces Painted For The Fourth

7.9.15.FROID-JULY 4-1


Pictured are some of the folks that attended the July 4 celebration in Froid having their faces painted.  (Submitted photo)

Horse Rustling Suspected North Of Wolf Point

7.9.15.HORSE-THIEF-WEB

“Buster” has been missing since June 14 from north of Wolf Point near mile post 15 on Montana Hwy. 13.

The act of stealing livestock is called duffing in Australia and rustling in Montana and throughout the American West. Whatever people want to call it, taking stock amounts to theft, and the recent suspected pilfering of a horse from a ranch a few miles north of Wolf Point is an example.
Roosevelt County Undersheriff John Summers told The Herald-News a horse that answers to “Buster” has been missing since June 14 from the area of Montana Hwy. 13 near mile post 15.
The eight-year-old male sorrel colored [chestnut coloring] gelding has white sox on both rear hoofs and a white hairline on the right front foot.
It is unbranded.
“He [owner] was yet to brand it,” Summers said.
“It’s worth at least $2,300,” he said.
“The family that owns the horse was away and found it missing when they returned. They searched with no luck,” Summers said.
The horse got out of its pen and was last seen on Hwy. 13 about 17 miles from Wolf Point after a
Scobey man tied the horse to a fence post and called 911. The horse was not there when an RCSO deputy arrived.
“We’re trying to do our best to find it. It’s a felony theft,” Summers said.
“For ranchers, it’s pretty serious if someone steals your cows or horses, or kills them,” he said.
Montana Department of Livestock enforcement officer Monte Simonsen contacted Summers during the last week of June about the missing horse.
Simonsen investigates thefts and abuse of livestock, and trespassing by livestock on grazing lands in several Hi-Line counties.
He said last week that there was no solid evidence of a theft.
“At this point in time it’s a horse disappearance. It isn’t a theft,” Simonsen said.
“It’s not a stolen horse as of yet, but it has tendencies to go toward a stolen horse,” he said.
“We’re looking for it and we have some ideas of where it went or where it might be,” Simonsen said.
“What we see is a lot of disappearance of cattle. You can’t really say they’ve been stolen. They may not be in the area where they are supposed to be,” he said.
Simonsen said there is a similar situation with a missing horse in Chinook.
As for modern-day rustling in Montana, he said, “We’ve had cattle stolen as much as a 1,000 head at a time.”
Simonsen described cattle and horses as social animals that might follow herds they don’t belong in just as humans follow other people.
“You have to put a human aspect on where the animal might be,” Simonsen said.