Largely as the result of an unsuccessful deregulation plan, Montanans have been experiencing steady and significant increases in their energy bills for the past six years. Rather than creating a competitive market of energy suppliers and choices for consumers, the plan inadvertently produced an unregulated monopoly and a growing pool of customers who have retained default service from the incumbent utility company. While continued energy rate increases can adversely affect all consumers, some feel they have been particularly taxing this year on Montana's low and fixed income families as well as on the state programs designed to help them pay their energy bills.
This report is part of a larger survey exploring two important issues facing Montanans: energy rates and services and prescription drug costs. This report explores the impact of energy rates on 800 Montanans age 18+ with regards to whether or not they have experienced a rate increase in the past year, how much their energy rates may have changed, and if they have sought assistance to help pay their bills. In addition, this survey gauges their support for better targeting of Universal System Benefit (USB) plan funds to residential energy assistance programs.
Because the two issues are so different and unrelated, separate reports on each are available. A full annotated questionnaire showing the findings to all survey questions is included in each report. This survey was conducted between April 8 and April 18, 2004, and the report prepared by Jennifer H. Sauer of AARP Knowledge Management who may be contacted at 202-434-6207 for further information. (25 pages)