- Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2016

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on a proposed rate hike for Montana-Dakota Utilities customers in eastern Montana. (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

An electric utility serving 26,000 homes and businesses in eastern Montana is scaling back a proposed 21 percent rate increase.

Montana-Dakota Utilities spokesman Mark Hanson said the company planned to file a new application late Monday seeking an increase of just over 13 percent. It would be phased in over two years and cost residential customers on average $6.38 per month.

The change resulted from MDU’s negotiations with the Montana Consumer Counsel and a group representing large utility customers that had objected to the original increase.

The Montana Public Service Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing on the rate hike beginning Tuesday in Glendive.

Commissioners rejected an interim rate hike for the utility in December.

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10:45 a.m.

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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