Colstrip bill sets perilous precedent

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As former and current Montana Public Service Commissioners, we represented Montanans across this great state in balancing the needs of utilities with the needs of consumers. We took our oath of office seriously and worked tirelessly to faithfully perform the job to which our constituents entrusted us. We often disagreed as commissioners, and still rarely agree on many issues. Yet, we are writing this letter because we share grave concerns about Senate Bill 331.

While we may differ in our views of various energy resources, we are united in the belief that Montanans elect the Public Service Commission to protect them from the natural tendencies of monopoly utilities. We oppose SB 331 because it eliminates the authority of the Montana Public Service Commission to do its legal duty to “supervise and regulate the operations of public utilities, common carriers, railroads, and other regulated industries….” SB 331 eliminates that basic function of the Public Service Commission and puts the utility in charge of determining utility rates. Upon codification of SB 331, utility customers would no longer receive the same level of commission protection from the monopoly utility.

SB 331 is a dangerous bill that sets a perilous precedent. We are united in urging members of the Montana State Legislature and Governor Bullock to reject this attempt to take over the most important function of the Montana Public Service Commission – protecting Montanans.

— Former and current Montana Public Service Commission commissioners: Tom Schneider, Democrat; Greg Jergeson, Democrat; Brad Molnar, Republican; Bob Raney, Democrat; Ken Toole, Democrat; Gail Gutsche, Democrat; John Vincent, Democrat; Travis Kavulla, Republican; Roger Koopman, Republican; Tony O’Donnell, Republican

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