Qwest offers $16M bill reduction to settle complaint
By Matt Gouras, AP
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Qwest Communications is offering a $16 million reduction in
customers' bills to settle a complaint that it was overcharging Montana customers.
The settlement, which stems from a complaint current Public
Service Commission Ken Toole filed in 2006 when he was running
for office, will need the approval of the rest of the
commission. Toole said he will recuse himself from the
Toole alleged that Qwest, the dominant telephone company in Montana, was exceeding its allowed profit in
Toole said he estimates that a $16 million reduction in rates
means the company will make about 9 percent return on its
investments instead of an estimated 21 percent. He said
the lower figure is more appropriate for a regulated utility.
"I'm pretty pleased," Toole said of the settlement.
Denise Peterson, the attorney who worked on behalf of Qwest
customers along with the Montana Consumer Counsel, said long
negotiations led to the agreement.
The settlement also calls for Qwest to invest more money in its Montana infrastructure,
she said. In exchange, the company would get a little more
freedom from regulatory constraints.
Basic residential rates would droop $2 per month under the
proposal, while business basic rates would be reduced $3.94.
Other charges would be reduced, so a customer could see a
reduction as large as $12.41, depending on the type of service
Qwest said it was also pleased with the proposal.
"Overall, we and our customers will benefit from a more
modernized form of regulation that not only shows how the
industry has evolved competitively, but that also allows us to
more quickly offer the new features and services our customers
want," said Johnna Hoff, Qwest spokeswoman.
Qwest serves about 300,000 customers in