69-3-303. Notice and hearing on proposed change. (1) Except as provided in 69-3-308, before the commission may approve any change increasing the rate or rates for utility service in a schedule generally affecting consumers in a utility's service area or before any change may become effective due to the passage of 9 months, the commission shall publish a notice of the proposed change, conforming to the requirements of 2-4-601 in one or more newspapers published and of general circulation within the area affected by the proposed change. This notice must announce a hearing on the proposed change and must inform interested persons as to how they may petition the commission to become parties to the hearing.
(2) The commission shall proceed to conduct the hearing under the Montana Administrative Procedure Act. The final decision of the commission in any matter decided after a hearing conducted pursuant to this section must conform to the requirements of a decision in a contested case under the Montana Administrative Procedure Act.
(3) The consumer counsel may petition to become a party to the hearing.