On the issues
How would you assess the performance of the current Public Service Commission?
Overall good. However, the obvious conflicts between some of the commissioners should end to allow concentrated professional effort on the critical regulatory tasks they are mandated to perform.
Utility regulation is highly technical work that involves complex legal and engineering issues. What experience do you have that makes you confident you’ll be able to effectively parse detailed briefing materials and fairly evaluate competing arguments from business representatives and environmental advocates?
I have extensive training in mechanical engineering including a Ph.D. from Oregon State University. For over 34 years, I have held licenses as a Professional Engineer (P.E.) in both Montana and California. Due to professional training, I am very familiar with technologies related to energy conversion processes, energy transmission, energy utilization, and environmental issues.
In addition to energy companies, the PSC regulates telephone companies, garbage haulers and passenger motor carriers. There has been some discussion in recent years about adding hospital oversight to the commission’s responsibilities as well. Do you think the PSC has appropriate regulatory scope?
The regulatory authority of the PSC is largely set by state law. The current regulatory scope is satisfactory.
Do you think the current Public Service Commission has placed appropriate weight on climate change considerations?
Yes, safe and reliable delivery of regulated services must be the highest priority. However, development of a 10- or 15-year plan for all regulated services would be useful. Responses to climate change would no doubt increase during that time interval.
Do you think the current Public Service Commission has placed appropriate weight on preserving the economic benefits of coal generating plants in Colstrip and Sidney?
Yes, abandonment of those facilities before their design life is exhausted would be wasteful of existing infrastructure including both the power plants mentioned and the associated transmission lines.
Stay tuned for more
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