Friday, February 16, 2007

"Re-regulation" in Montana

Great Falls Tribune:

The first of three bills that would scrap the state's 10-year-old deregulation laws and allow NorthWestern Energy to build its own power plants won initial approval Wednesday in the House.

Supporters of the measure by Rep. Alan Olson, R-Roundup, said it would give NorthWestern, which owns the utility transmission lines, a big bargaining chip when it negotiates for power owned by PPL Montana...

PPL Montana has opposed the measures, and even supporters agree they won't return Montana to the days of cheap power before deregulation. The days of inexpensive power generated by dams and coal-fired power plants are long gone, and building new power plants will be very expensive.

But supporters say even a small project could force PPL Montana to charge lower rates, and new plants by NorthWestern would provide cheaper electricity over the long run.