Letters: Tranel will protect utility customers risky investments, rate hikes

Before the primary election, I made hundreds of phone calls for Monica Tranel, candidate for the Public Service Commission (PSC) in District 4 in northwest Montana. I spoke with Republicans and Democrats and found overwhelming support for her.

What people liked is Tranel’s desire to protect customers from unreasonable charges, risky investments and unexpected rate hikes.

The PSC is a “down-ballot issue” (not one of the top four races) and some people aren’t concerned about it. They should be. The PSC exists mainly to ensure that monopoly utilities like NorthWestern Energy (NWE) don’t gouge their customers. The five current PSC commissioners approve almost everything NWE proposes, at our expense.

NWE doesn’t worry about costs because they charge their customers for all expenses and also get a guaranteed 10% return on their investment. Nor do they readily invest in renewables, which are far less expensive to operate and are increasingly reliable. Furthermore, we customers pay for NWE’s “good neighbor” actions and commercials. They get the credit and we get the bill.

As a lawyer, Monica Tranel saved NWE customers over $10 million and she knows how the Public Service Commission works. Be sure to go “down-ballot” and vote for her. You’ll be glad you did.

Jan Hoem, Missoula