Order of Montana Public Service Commission Relative to Water Utilities
The State Railroad and Public Commission of Montana, which held a hearing on May 6, in the matter of standardizing rules and regulations governing water service by water utilities, has issued a report and Order No., 131, recently decided. The order reads:
It is ordered (A) when a water utility adopts the meter system, meter will be supplied, installed, and maintained at the expense of the utility. If necessary to provide special location, such as meter boxes, it will be the duty of the consumer to do so. Any unusual piping required will also be at the consumer’s expense.
Meters which have been installed at consumer’s expense will be taken over by the utility at the pro rata value, based upon length of time in service and present condition.
Upon a proper showing being made to the Commission that a utility is not financially able to assume the burden of acquiring meters already installed, and owned by the consumer, an order will be issued permitting the utility to purchase said meters at the pro rata value, based upon length of time in service and present condition, paying for them in installments and refunding to consumer by means of a percentage allowance on the monthly or quarterly bills for water consumed. The entire indebtedness, however, must be liquidated within two and one-half years.
If a consumer desires a meter installed and the utility is financially unable to comply with the request, the consumer may purchase of the utility a standard meter, which the utility will install at its own expense, refunding the purchase price of meter, in the same manner as described in preceding paragraph, allowing interest on the investment to consumer, at the rate of six per cent. per annum.
- If the utility requires a meter deposit in accordance with Section 3 of this report, the consumer who was required to make deposit will receive interest thereon at the rate of six per cent, per annum.
- A utility may protect itself by a reasonable minimum charge based on the size of the meter and consumption pf water.
- The utility at its own expense must tap the main and furnish the corporation cock, the clamp (when necessary), and any other material used or labor furnished in connection with the tapping of the main. Any other material used or labor furnished in connection with the installation of the service pipe or curb box to the property line of the consumer shall be billed against the consumer, not at an arbitrary charge, but at actual cost.
- Unless under conditions where it is not possible to do so, the utility must notify the consumer prior to shutting the water off.
- When the water has been shut off for cause, the utility shall not charge the consumer a greater sum than one dollar for turning it on. This must not be indicated in the schedule as a “penalty” but is presumed to simply reimburse the utility for the extra expense it has been put to.
- Should the consumer, not the owner of the property, desire service and tender the utility a guarantee payment of bills for a period not less than the customary billing period of the utility and in no event less than one month, the utility must accept such deposit and render the service applied for.
- A consumer must not add additional fixtures without the consent of the utility, when water is being furnished at flat rates.
- Consumers must not, without the consent of the utility, supply water to others.
- When the water has been shut off it should not be turned on except by the utility, or by its direction.
- The commission will not authorize the assessment of “fines” or “penalties.”
The report says: “It should not be understood that the commission will decline to authorize rules not consistent herewith upon the showing that the same are warranted by local conditions.”