In an eyebrow-raising, clandestine move, the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) recently approved a $6.5 million rate increase for Northwestern Energy (NWE) and then failed to mention the price hike in the press release sent out following the decision.
PSC Chairman Brad Johnson admitted it was wrong not to mention the increase and that if he had it to do over again, he would have “put another sentence in there talking about the $6.5 million.” Although Commissioner Roger Koopman blasted Johnson for the omission, the process, and Johnson’s lack of knowledge about the PSC, Koopman never explained that he too voted in favor of the increase and made the motion to approve it.
What’s important for NWE customers to understand is that this all-Republican commission has once again done the bidding of NWE at the expense of its residential ratepayers who will be paying NWE shareholders — out-of-state corporations like Blackrock Fund — a 10% profit on Colstrip, even when the plant isn’t running. NWE recently asked the commission to recover almost $7 million it paid to buy power while Colstrip 4 was off line for violation of air quality emissions standards.
While Republican commissioners rant about partisan behavior, we, the ratepayers, are being forced to send our money to New York hedge funds and at the same time buy power on the open market because a Colstrip plant can’t meet air quality standards.