Montana State Legislature

Public Service Commisson

The mission of the Public Service Commission is to fairly balance the long-term interests of Montana utility and transportation companies and their customers.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) regulates the operations of public utility and transportation industries that operate in the state. Five commissioners, elected from districts throughout Montana, form the Montana Public Service Commission that oversees the Public Service Regulation Program. Each commissioner serves a four-year term.

The PSC provides services primarily through the employment of state employees, who perform rate and economic analysis relative to the entities regulated by the commission, and other technical and administrative duties.

Since the Public Service Commission is a single program agency, no organizational chart is included.

This report includes a series of charts that compare expenditure growth to the growth in the economy and growth in inflation adjusted for population. Montana statute, 17-8-106, MCA, recommends using growth in personal income for comparison purposes. Personal income is a measure for growth in the economy. Comparing growth allows financial planners to consider past and future demands in services or changes in revenues.

The following list discusses in more detail the inflection points on the charts:

  1. In FY 2003, the legislature approved an increase of $1.0 million in state special revenue over the FY 2000 base budget which included $683,454 of universal access funds in FY 2002. The 1999 legislature approved language in HB 2 for the 2001 biennium that appropriated $650,000 for the Montana Universal Access Program authority for the 2003 biennium, but only $12,620 was expended in FY 2000.
  2. FY 2004 and FY 2005 included a $500,000 increase in state special revenue to accommodate passage of SB 247. SB 247 established a default electricity supply procurement process and required the Public Service Commission to adopt rules to establish process criteria.
  3. General fund revenue shortfalls occurred in FY 2017, and the legislature reduced FY 2018 appropriations during the 2017 regular session and during the November 2017 Special Session. Since the revenue shortfall was short-term, legislators increased appropriations in FY 2020-FY 2021.

General fund

The Public Service Commission’s budget does not include general fund.

State special revenue

The majority of growth in expenditures within the Public Service Commission has been supported by state special revenue. An increase in FY 2003 was due to the Montana Universal Access Program authority for the 2003 biennium. FY 2004 and FY 2005 included a $500,000 increase in state special revenue to accommodate the passage of SB 247. The decrease in state special revenue in FY 2018 was due to reductions made in the November 2017 Special Session.


Legislative Changes

The 2019 Legislature passed the following:

HB 3 - This bill appropriates $248,000 in state special revenue in fiscal year 2019. During the November 2017 Special Session operating expenses were reduced by $248,000. This reduction resulted in a double impact as a transfer was also approved, which was not intended to impact the overall appropriation. In most agency budgets, in order to recognize other savings due to a transfer, appropriations are also reduced. However, due to the nature of the state special revenue fund in PSC this reduction further impacted the agency budget. The appropriation in HB 3 adjusted this.

HB 597- This bill generally revises laws related to utility regulation. It allows for the Montana Consumer Counsel to request, select and retain an independent monitor for competitive solicitations. It allows for a hearings examiner for proceedings under Title 69 and establishes a process for use of a hearings examiner. While there is no appropriation in HB 597, aggregate appropriation authority was provided in HB 715, some of which may be used for this purpose.

HB 715 - This bill appropriates $290,000 in state special revenue in fiscal year 2020 and $270,000 in state special revenue in fiscal year 2021 based upon the passage and approval of HB 597.

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Legislative Studies

Energy & Transportation Interim Committee work


Audit Reports

Financial Compliance Audit - Department of Public Service Regulation



HB 85 and fiscal note  Revising utility cost tracking and recovery laws

HB 99  Revise laws related to utility pre-approval

HB 182, Revising laws related to utility deadband mechanisms

HB 359, Revise net metering laws

HB 370, Prohibiting electricity demand charges

HB 376, Revise laws to bring electric and telephone co-ops in compliance with federal law

HB 387, Revise small energy generation facility requirements and transition costs

HB 389, Require certain power production facilities to file a bond


SB 35  Repeal expired property tax exemption for electrical generation facilities

SB 59, Revise laws related to integrated least-cost resource planning

SB 85, Generally revise taxation of renewable energy

SB 86, Generally revise obligations and conditions for property impacted by coal

SB 87, Revise coal-fired power/water-right owner legal responsibilities

SB 88, Establish requirements for coal-fired power plant maintenance

SB 134, Board of Investment loans for coal-fired generation decommissioning

SB 160, Establish public service commission appointments

SB 179, Revise billing practices for telecommunications

SB 183, Revise statute of limitation laws regarding overbilling of telecom services

SB 201, Revise avoided cost rate making

SB 213, Revising the PSC appeals process in contested cases

SB 237, Revise community renewable energy project requirements

Public Service Commission Information for Legislators

PSC Letter Jan. 12, 2021 - Electronic Database and Docket Information

PSC Letter Jan. 12, 2021 - Dockets

PSC Workplace Assessment Executive Summary May 2017

PSC Chairman letter Jan. 13, 2021 (re: legislation regarding redundancies)

PSC Chairman letter Jan. 13, 2021 (re: implementation of hearing examiner)

Agency profile information provided by the Legislative Fiscal Division.

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