HB 597, by Rep. Zolnikov (R-Billings), would help consumers by making sure resource procurement decisions made by utilities and the Public Service Commission (PSC) are made as part of robust processes.
The bill helps consumers by:
- Requiring competitive bidding processes if a utility wants to receive pre-approval for a new resource.
- Requiring a draft Request for Proposals document be made available for public comment as part of competitive bidding. This helps make sure a for-profit utility isn’t structuring that request so that only the most expensive power plant can win (which means more profit for the utility).
- Placing a new emphasis on Demand Side Management, which helps make sure we’re being efficient with our current power plants and grid system before building expensive new power plants.
- Implementing a hearings examiner process to make recommendations to Commissioners, which will help ensure we have strong and robust analysis being presented to Commissioners.
- Improving the quality of the long-term resource plans produced by utilities.
HB 597 was heard in the House Federal Relations, Energy, and Technology Committee on February 25th. Passed that committee on a 12-0 vote. Awaits a vote on the House Floor.