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PSC denies rate hike request from North Star developers

Posted at 5:20 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 19:22:38-04

Residents of a Helena Valley subdivision will see their water and sewer bill cut by almost $15, after the Montana Public Service Commission denied a rate hike request from the developers.

This week, the PSC determined homeowners in the neighborhood will not have to pay more than $200 dollars each month, as the developers of the North Star Subdivision requested last year.

Their utility, called North Star Water and Sewer, initially asked for more than $500 each month from each household.

They said the rates were necessary to pay for water and sewer infrastructure they installed.

This week the PSC instead approved a combined water and sewer base rate of almost $56.

That's about $14 less than the $70 base rate set in 2014.

One homeowner said they're grateful for the decision, since some people even sold their homes over the requested rate hike.

"Just the mere receipt of a letter threatening a $500 a month rate…How that plays out in John Q. Citizen's mind, it's a pretty scary thing,” said Derek Oestreicher, who lives in the neighborhood. "It's kind of a David and Goliath story. We’re not talking about a massive utility company, but we are talking about your average citizen, going up against someone with considerably deeper pockets."

North Star Water and Sewer did not call us back on Thursday.

The PSC will release a written order in the next few weeks.

The utility can then ask them to reconsider the decision.