Gov Clarifies Remark on MDU Rate Increase

Aaron Flint posted on August 20, 2010 16:11 :: 1654 Views

The subject of a green power mandate in the state of Montana is landing right in the middle of a debate over a proposed rate increase by Montana Dakota Utilities (MDU). 

It started with MDU announcing news on August 12th that they had filed an electric rate increase request with the Montana Public Service Commission.  MDU says they were forced to raise rates by 13 percent due to, among other factors, increased investments in renewable energy generation.  MDU then cited Montana’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which requires electric utilities to purchase 10 percent of their power from renewable sources this year. 

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) took aim at MDU for using the RPS as a justification for a rate increase, telling KXGN Radio’s Emilie Boyles this:

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But, if MDU was able to carve themselves out of a renewable mandate in Montana, thats certainly news to them.  Here’s what MDU spokesman Mark Hanson had to say from Bismarck, North Dakota:

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Jim Paine, an attorney with the Montana PSC, concurred:

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As MDU’s proposed rate increase moves forward, Montana’s Renewable Portfolio Standard doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.  And by 2015, utilities such as MDU will have to purchase 15 percent of their power from non-hydro renewable energy resources.

Governor Schweitzer’s spokesman Jayson O’Neill says the Governor misspoke and was speaking in reference to Montana’s rural electric cooperatives who are exempt from the renewable portfolio standard.

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