HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state Public Service Commission has ordered NorthWestern Energy to refund an estimated $2 million to $3 million to customers after the panel found the utility overestimated how much revenue it lost from energy-conservation programs.
The 5-0 decision on Tuesday focused on reported revenue lost from 2006 through 2011 by promoting the use of energy-saving light bulbs.
Customers' electric rates cover the $11.9 million annual cost of the program, but NorthWestern also can recoup its fixed costs for unused electricity related to the conservation programs, the commission said.
It found that a study funded by the company overstated how much electricity was saved through the use of the bulbs and determined a portion of the reimbursements should be refunded to its 325,000 customers through a rate credit.
The commission order requires NorthWestern to refile its statements on how much revenue it lost, using a formula approved by the PSC. Once a final amount is approved, rates will be adjusted accordingly and credits given over a period of no more than a year, said Commissioner Travis Kavula of Great Falls.