HB 245 by Rep. Larry Brewster (R-Billings) is another anti-consumer bill that would make it easier for NorthWestern Energy to overcharge customers for expensive gas plants. The bill increases the burden on the Public Service Commission (PSC) when it decides whether to allow NorthWestern to charge customers for expensive electricity-generating resources. Instead of requiring that NorthWestern’s application for an additional generating resource, such as an expensive gas plant (or five), would be good for consumers, HB 245 would require the PSC to prove with concrete evidence that expensive new electricity generating resources would not be good for the state. This increased burden on the PSC makes it more difficult for the PSC to protect consumers, especially since the bill shortens the timeframe for the PSC to make these decisions. These fundamental shifts put consumers in the crosshairs of higher electricity rates in order to benefit NorthWestern’s shareholders.
A hearing was held before the House Energy, Telecommunications, and Federal Relations Committee on February 3. Amendments are being considered and the bill is awaiting executive action.
Anne Hedges, ahedges[at]meic.org