There is one thing that has been bothering me almost since the time I first started looking into this whole coal plant thing. There are many suggestions in the record to the effect that City Staff, the City Commission, and the Board of Directors of Electric City Power have intended that the residents of the City of Great Falls be the customers of the City's utility, and not necessarily by choice.

For example, did you know that the City of Great Falls tried in the legislature two years ago to pass a bill requiring you to purchase your power from the City's utility? Did you know that throughout last summer the City was trying to get the Public Service Commission to give them permission to sell to you? Did you know that the City of Great Falls tried to amend a PSC rule to allow an electricity supplier to bind customers to contracts of unlimited length? Did you know that a Great Falls legislator, Deb Kottel, has introduced a bill that could require all residents of Great Falls to buy their power from an unregulated PSC?

Yet, despite this apparent intention, management has been incredibly coy on the entire issue.

In her letter to the editor back in December 2006, Ms. Coleen Balzarini, the City of Great Falls Fiscal Services Director and the Executive Director of Electric City Power said on this very issue:

During the last legislative session, the City did request a change in law to allow us to serve residential customers within the City limits. The legislature opted to not approve that request. The City is considering making a similar request this session, but has not made a final decision to do so, and has no guarantee that even if the request is made, that it will be granted.
Has not made a final decision to do so.

Interesting. Rep. Deb Kottel's bill, mentioned above, was sent in for drafting on December 22, 2006, shortly before publication of Coleen Balzarini's letter to the editor. I will let the reader decide whether Ms. Balzarini's statement, apparently intended for the owners of Electric City Power, was credible and made in good faith.

Let's get beyond that question to a new one. Here's mine: Is the viability of the Highwood Generating Station, or at least the City of Great Falls' involvement in it, wholly dependent on some sort of ruling or law capturing Great Falls residents as its customers? No more baloney.

If City residents cannot be compelled to buy their power from HGS and ECP, does this whole thing fail? No more double talk. Yes? Or no?

Because if the answer is yes, I have to say that this thing has been handled in a manner that is absolutely abhorrent. What, no one thought residents would find out until it was too late? Someone figured that residents would all just wake up one day, find out they are bound to buy power from the City for the rest of their natural lives, yawn and go back to sleep?


What is the conception of government by the people that suggests there is any choice besides openness and clarity?

Or, if I am wrong, and the feasibility study I am going to obtain from SME, and the Independent Engineering Analysis just ordered at the request of the bond underwriters both say that this thing is completely viable whether or not City residents are captured as customers...well...then...

I'll just have to pull an Emily Litella:

Never mind.

1 comment:

free thought said...

No. Really? Shocking! You must be paranoid. Just this morning I am pretty sure I saw some of our city officials--I wasn't sure because they blended so naturally with the driven snow.