Mayoral Forum-Third Question

3. Should the City of Great Falls continue its investment in the Highwood Generating Station? Why or why not? If not, what will you do as Mayor to extricate the City from the Highwood Generating Station?

Ed McKnight:

No. Attempting to construct HGS would have been controversial enough without the audacity of locating it on a national landmark. No matter what anyone around here thinks of that landmark, the landmark is a national issue to be decided by the federal government. I don't know of any coal plant shut down by opposition that was located on a national landmark. Failing to understand that this issue would weigh heavily in the eyes of the National Park Service and Department of Interior was a fatal flaw from the beginning. For the landmark, lawsuits and economic reasons, I think HGS will not be built. Everything we've spent on development was a gamble of our money and has already been lost. We should cut our losses now. If nothing else, dissolution of ECP would neatly sever all ties with SME and HGS. We would still owe SME for the water credits, but according to city manager John Lawton there is no repayment schedule. Again this is a question for legal experts. I haven't read any contracts because we citizens don't have access to contracts.

Larry Steele:

I believe this is a repeat question. Please read #2.

Susan Kahn:

Lack of open public involvement formed a major divide in this community. The process was poorly managed by our city from the very beginning. All the options were not fully explored nor were all the consequences of the city’s involvement in this project.

The city entered into a venture that I believe does not protect the best interests of our citizens. From the public’s viewpoint, the HGS forms a major division. When the city chooses to enter a project of this magnitude, it needs public support to be successful. Somehow the 2005 commission voted away our right to vote on this.


a-fire-fly said...

Mr. Steele:
This is not a repeat question. There are significant differences between Highwood and ECP. With all due respect, you chose to participate, please give us reason to believe you have some knowledge about these issues.

Mrs. Kahn:
While I agree with most of what you say, you did not answer the question. Reviewing the past actions of our government does not assist us in deciding if you can change the future actions of our government, when you will not give a straight answer to a simple question.

Mr. McKnight:
I appreciate your effort.

Susan Kahn said...

a-fire-fly, I'm glad we are in agreement with most things.

I said in my ECP response that I oppose the city getting involved with generating plants and that would include the Highwood Generating Station. I do not support the city building, owning or operating generating plants for the reasons I listed. That's the simple question.

What’s next is to find our obligations and identify the risk; this is where it is more complex - Input from all areas is needed. There is a price to pay to get out of ownership and I must represent people with vastly different opinions and do what is in the long term interest of Great Falls.

I don't think giving up precious water rights was in our best interest, because it will effect future residential and business growth.