Kirk Bushman, of Billings, a former Yellowstone Republican chairman and U.S. Senate candidate, is running for the Public Service Commission’s southeastern Montana seat.
The candidate said he’s the best person to replace outgoing commissioner Brad Molnar because he’s an engineer familiar with the utility issues who wants PSC decisions based on service and price, not politics.
Specifically, Bushman faulted PSC Democrats for making the advancement of green energy a higher priority than assuring utility customers the best price for the best service.
“I want a lot of these issues to be debated, or looked at, on their technical merits,” Bushman said. “The PSC isn’t a place were environmental causes are to be trumpeted. There are other agencies where that is done.”
When energy sources prove more costly for utility companies and therefore consumers, the PSC should revert to a best-price policy, said Bushman, 45.
The Public Service Commission regulates electric, telephone, gas and water utilities in Montana. The PSC’s southeast Montana district, known as District 2, covers 10 counties: Big Horn, Carbon, Carter, Custer, Fallon, Prairie, Powder River, Rosebud, Treasure and Yellowstone. Three fourths of the district’s voters are in Yellowstone County.
The district is also heavily serviced by rural electrical cooperatives that are not regulated by the PSC.
Republican Al Garver of Billings, who previously ran unsuccessfully for mayor, is Bushman’s primary election opponent.
On the Democratic ticket, two Billings candidates, former state Sen. Lynda Moss, and former Mayor Chuck Tooley, are running.
Incumbent Brad Molnar is prevented by term limits from seeking reelection.
Bushman, a mechanical engineer with a degree from Montana State University, is a senior designer for WorleyParsons, a global engineering consulting firm with a Billings office.
He said his work history with energy issues should assure voters he already understands many of the technical issues facing the PSC.
His personal biography is packed with Treasure State bona fides — fourth generation Montanan, Billings Central Catholic alumnus, married father of three, wolf hunter.
Bushman recently served as Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee chairman. In 2008, he was one of four Republican primary candidates for the U.S. Senate.
Republicans chose Butte attorney Bob Kelleher as their general-election challenger to Sen. Max Baucus that year.