Montana regulators looking at proposed electricity rate increase

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A steep hike in electricity rates for 26,000 homes and businesses in eastern Montana is up for consideration this week by state regulators who have aired prior concerns with the proposal.

Montana-Dakota Utilities says the 21 percent increase is needed to cover costs that include $400 million in pollution controls at coal plants in Montana and South Dakota.

A hearing on the company's request before the Public Service Commission begins Tuesday and is expected to last several days.

Commissioners in December rejected an interim increase sought by MDU, saying they needed to study the matter further.

A final order is due by March 25.

When the rate increase was announced last year, it included a fee for some customers who use their own wind or solar power. That provision has been dropped.

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