NorthWestern Energy has proposed to buy an additional 25% of Colstrip 4, and has asked the Public Service Commission to pre-approve the extra share in future rates.
NWE is not to be trusted. The PSC commissioned a third party study of the 20-year Resource Plan NWE filed last year. The study found that the company made unfounded and inaccurate assumptions in an attempt to justify limiting consumer access to clean renewable energy and buying more fossil fuel generation.
In their pre-approval request to charge ratepayers for the costs of additional Colstrip shares, NWE is asking ratepayers and the PSC to buy a pig in a poke. The Montana Consumer Counsel, created by the Montana Constitution to protect ratepayers from predatory regulated industry, has said that the company needs to get transparent about the costs of coal, operations, maintenance and repair (one repair alone is expected to cost $20 million), cleanup of ash ponds, and decommissioning the plant. NWE was granted permission by the PSC to have this information hidden from ratepayers. But still we can judge that NWE wants to pull a fast one.
In PSC District 2, Commissioner Tony O'Donnell has both a primary opponent, Daniel Zolnikov, and a Democratic challenger, Val McMurtry. All of these candidates can be asked their thoughts on this application for pre-approval. Commissioners answer to voters. Let them know you want accountability and full transparency, full cleanup in Colstrip paid by shareholders, and clean renewable energy for the future.
Northern Plains Resource Council
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