UPDATE: The bill has a hearing in the Senate energy committee on March 19th at 3pm. Please contact your state Senator and ask them to oppose SB 331!
SB 331, by Sen. Tom Richmond (R-Billings), would require NorthWestern Energy customers to write a blank check to the monopoly utility. This bill replaces the highly-controversial SB 278.
Both bills are outrageous attempts to require the PSC to pass through costs to NorthWestern customers. These would include NorthWestern’s Colstrip-related remediation and decommissioning costs (DEQ projects at least $700 million will be necessary for remediation), $300 million in acquisition costs, plus an 8.25% rate of return for its existing 220 megawatt share of the plant. Those costs would be set in rates for 30 years, even if the plant is no longer working.
The bill also allows NorthWestern to purchase up to 150 megawatts more of the plant, then pass through $40 million worth of operations costs for any future increased ownership in the plant to its customers. After the first $40 million in unreviewed costs, the PSC would at least have an opportunity to review operations costs for prudence–this would not include remediation and decommissioning.
SB 331 is an ever-so-slightly scaled-back version of a terrible bill. Sen. Richmond keeps telling us he heard our cries the first time around, then reworked SB 278 to address those concerns. That fact does not mean that he actually did, nor that SB 331 is reasonable for NorthWestern customers. Customers will be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars of costs with no PSC oversight.
Don’t let NWE pick your pocket. Contact the Governor and legislators today!
What You Can Do:
- Contact members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee and ask them to oppose SB 331
- Please contact your state Senator and ask them to oppose SB 331.
- Call Governor Steve Bullock at (406) 444-3111 and ask he oppose SB 331.