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Waste hauler request to offer Missoula County services denied

Posted at 11:50 AM, Aug 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-22 09:18:22-04

HELENA – Missoula County residents won’t be seeing any changes in how they get rid of their garbage after the Montana Public Service Commission denied a request to allow L & L Site Services to begin waste hauling operations in the county.

Like most transportation companies, garbage disposal requires a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the PSC in order to do business in Montana.

L & L applied for such a certificate for Missoula County earlier this year, but current waste hauler — Republic Services — filed a motion to intervene in the case.

The PSC looked at public need, the existing carriers’ ability to meet that need, and harm to existing carriers contrary to the public interest before voting narrowly earlier this week to deny L & L’s request.

L & L presented testimony and evidence on May 21st  arguing that they had met every part of this test. Republic disputed that.

Bob Lake, PSC Commissioner for District 4, which includes Missoula, made the motion to deny L & L’s application.

“Being a free enterprise individual my entire life, I have strong feelings about competition. I also have strong feelings about following the letter of the law. I think as Public Service Commissioners we’re sitting in the dubious position of regulating this territory, and we have to make this decision," Commissioner Lake said.

“Rather than approaching this from the standpoint of why should we allow a competitor into what is currently a monopolized market, the question we should ask is, why not?" said Commissioner Roger Koopman who voted against the motion. 

"You’re not going to find a more fit applicant based on their record. It does not require the commission to conclude that the incumbent garbage hauler is doing a poor job, to simply allow healthy competition and consumer choice in the marketplace," Koopman added.

L & L may look to have their case reconsidered in light of the close vote.