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Mission Valley Power Consumer Council seeks input

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News from Mission Valley Power

PABLO — The Mission Valley Power Consumer Council is an advisory board to the Mission Valley Power utility on issues of rates, service fees, and general utility policy. On July 18, the Mission Valley Power Utility Board made several recommendations to the Consumer Council for policy and practice changes and service fee increases. 

The majority of the recommendations by the Utility are based on recovering the actual cost of doing business to ensure the reliable operation of utility services. 

The recommended changes also include the elimination of the customer line extension credit of $500. This is commonly called aid to construction. MVP is like many other utilities; including Missoula Electric, who are recommending eliminating the line extension credit. MVP has seen an increase in new customers and instead of applying an automatic line extension credit of $500 to eligible customer requests, MVP is recommending that all new customers or new construction requests, pay 100% of the cost of that requested service.    

This recommendation eliminates the subsidy from existing customers to new customers or customer requests that require a line change from MVP. Prior to making the recommendation the utility calculated the impact of the practice, and the “credits” would purchase much-needed utility equipment that serves multiple customers. Therefore, the utility wants to eliminate the credit applied when engineering is creating a utility work order. 

A related recommended change is to issue work order cost estimates for a period of two weeks. Utility materials have seen significant price increases. One item, utility wire URD triplex, has increased an estimated 178% over the past five years. Therefore, the work order estimates have to remain up to date with present costs.

The other recommendation is for all service fee charges to be based on actual costs. The transition to actual costs on service fees is partially based on the fact that utility wages have increased 22% over the past five years. Fuel has increased 84% over the past five years.  

The utility proposal is to review and increase all service fees at least annually which is consistent with the federal rules governing Mission Valley Power which can be found in 25 CFR 175 Subpart B. 25 CFR subpart B 175.205 (a) requires that rates and fees are reviewed at least annually to determine if financial requirements are being met to ensure reliable operations of the utility and to meet federal statutory requirements. 

Meeting statutory requirements is based on having sufficient revenues to pay all the utility bills like wholesale power purchase costs and make routine system improvements. 

The Consumer Council will hold a public hearing on Aug. 24 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the MVP Pablo Conference Room. Customers can make a statement at that meeting or provide written input by Sept. 1 by mailing a statement to Mission Valley Power, Operations Manual Changes, PO Box 97, Pablo, MT 59855.

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