In a closely-decided vote, today the Montana Public Service Commission voted not to permit L & L Site Services to begin waste hauling operations in Missoula County. Like most transportation companies, garbage disposal requires a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Public Service Commission in order to do business in Montana. L & L applied for such a certificate for Missoula County on March 1, 2018. Republic Services, which already had a certificate for Missoula County, filed a motion to intervene in the case.
In order to receive a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, the Commission must examine three factors: public need, existing carriers’ ability to meet need, and harm to existing carriers contrary to the public interest. A determination of public convenience and necessity may include a consideration of competition. An applicant also must prove they are fit to provide the service sought.
At a public hearing in Missoula on May 21, 2018, L & L presented testimony and evidence arguing that they had met every part of this test. Republic disputed that.
Bob Lake, Public Service Commissioner for District 4, which includes Missoula, made the motion to deny L & L’s application.
Commissioner Lake said, “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 Roger Koopman voted against the motion (thus in favor of granting a certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to L & L) 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? 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.”
Because the vote was close, and because several commissioners who voted to deny L & L’s application expressed openness to the other side, L & L may seek reconsideration of the Commission’s decision. If a motion for reconsideration is filed, it must be received within 10 days from the date the Commission’s final order is issued.