Regulators lose bid for power outage cost-sharing plan

HELENA, Mont. - Montana regulators have failed to win legislative support to require NorthWestern Energy to share in the cost of supplying power to customers because of unexpected outages.

The effort died when a bill sought by the Public Service Commission couldn't muster the votes to get a discussion on the Senate floor.

A spokesman for the commission said regulators will continue to scrutinize the company whenever it seeks to pass costs directly to customers.

Northwestern is currently contesting an order the commission issued last year for the company to refund more than $8.2 million to customers.

That's what the utility charged after having to buy electricity on the open market following a 2013 outage of the Colstrip coal plant.

Regulators wanted NorthWestern to absorb 10 percent of such costs like other utilities regulated by the commission.

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