Montana Public Service Commissioner Claims Obama’s Clean Power Plan May Be Costly
On Monday, The Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency released the Clean Power Plan, and although many believe that plan won't make it past the Supreme Court, Montana Public Service Commissioner Kirk Bushnell believes rate payers will likely end up paying for many upgrades done because of the plan.
"We have to deem any rate increase applications by utilities as reasonable and prudent," Bushnell said. "Now we do this in two ways. One is that it is something the rate payers should have to pay for, but we also have to say is this something the utility is being forced to do."
Bushnell says that even if the PSC rules against rate hikes resulting upgrades done in response to the clean power plan, a court will likely overturn their decision.
"Let’s assume it’s fairly cut and dry," Bushnell said. "The EPA doesn’t have to do it. They install the new scrubber, and that costs so many millions of dollars. It would be very hard for us not to allow that to come into rate and if we said no we would probably be challenged into the District Court pretty quickly."
In June, the Supreme Court ruled against the EPA on a set of new emissions regulations on coal plants. Despite the Supreme Court verdict, energy producers in Montana had already put upgrades in place because of those regulations, upgrades that Montana rate payers will end up paying for.