Exclusive Highlights from Big Sky Energy Forum

300 to 400 new jobs in Billings, nearly 3,000 megawatts of electric power needed in the Bakken region, a trucking company doubles revenue in 5 years, and Eastern Montana legislators sound off on the Governor’s veto of oil and gas impact funds.  That’s some of the highlights from today’s “Voices of Montana,” Montana’s only statewide radio talk show, as we broadcast live from The Big Sky Energy Forum.  And what a lineup it was at The Big Sky Energy Forum at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Billings Wednesday. The event was put together by the Big Sky Economic Development Authority (Big Sky EDA).   

I hosted our live statewide radio talk show, Voices of Montana, from the Crowne Plaza Wednesday morning.  Full audio can be by going to our podcast page via the links below.  

Do you remember the big rig debate from a couple years ago?  Environmentalists and liberal activists in Montana and Idaho wanted to to block the shipments of “megaloads” or “big rigs” transporting large modules destined for the oil fields of Canada.  Others of us pointed out that if you block big rigs from travelling the roads now, you prevent these types of jobs from coming to Montana in the future. 

Since that time, a company named Bay Limited moved to Billings, Montana, creating dozens of jobs.  They’ve now been building the large modules right here in Montana to ship to the oil fields in Canada. 

In the first segment of Wednesday’s Voices of Montana, I spoke with Bill Parker.  Bill is the Assistant Vice President for Bay Limited.  During today’s show he says Bay Limited will soon be hiring 300-400 new employees in Billings alone just to meet demand.  Click here to listen to more of my interview with Bill Parker.

Then, in the 2nd segment, I spoke with Rep. Duane Ankney and Sen. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive).  Ankney and Rosendale are two of many elected officials representing Eastern Montana communities who are speaking out in opposition to Gov. Steve Bullock’s (D-MT) veto blocking funding for new infrastructure in oil and gas communities.  This was one of many bills vetoed during Gov. Bullock’s post-session veto spree.  Click here to listen to what Ankney and Rosendale had to say.  

What is happening in the Montana economy when it comes to the energy industry?  It goes beyond oil and gas.  In the 2nd half of the show, I spoke with Pat Barkey from The University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER).  I also spoke with Kevin Gustainis from Montana Peterbilt.  Gustainis says strong ag prices and the oil and gas sector led his company to double revenues in 5 years.  

Closing Wednesday’s show was Niles Hushka with KLJ Engineering.  They have 20 offices across MT, WY, MN, and the Dakotas- including offices in Billings, Kalispell, Bozeman, Missoula, and Helena.  When it comes to the Bakken oil region of Montana and North Dakota, Hushka says an additional 2,600 to 3,200 megawatts of electric power will be needed to meet demand in the region, creating economic opportunity for electric power producers as well.  Click here to listen to the 2nd half of the show. 

Coming up Thursday- we may also hear from Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser….stay tuned.       

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