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By Keila Szpaller, Daily Montanan

Everyone in the room can see NorthWestern Energy is in trouble, said lawyer Jenny Harbine: “This is a utility in some distress.”

Thursday on behalf of the Montana Environmental Information Center, Harbine gave an opening statement that outlined the rocky last few years the utility has had in trying to manage its assets and serve customers.

She also asked the Public Service Commission to fully adjudicate questions in NorthWestern Energy’s application for higher rates — and not just approve a settlement privately negotiated with only a handful of parties.

She requested the elected commissioners offer NorthWestern much-needed help in risk mitigation and planning in response to the rate case.

“Now is the time for the commission to take a proactive role to steer Northwestern, arguably the most economically important company in Montana, onto a course that serves the public interest,” Harbine said.


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