Thursday, December 08, 2022

Thoughts on PSC

| November 3, 2022 7:55 AM

I’m running for Public Service Commissioner, District 5 and have shared my opinion about dysfunction at the PSC on more than one occasion. This time, however, I write to share my concerns about recent actions taken by my opponent in this race. My concerns stem from two emails sent by Ann Bukacek in August and September to Montana politicians including the Governor, legislators, and legislative candidates.

Her emails are clearly intended to promote certain power generation sources over others. I doubt the content was taken very seriously. She is not an expert on the topic and her ‘research’ – as it was while on the Flathead County Health Board – is suspect. But what must be taken seriously is her apparent misunderstanding of the role of a Public Service Commissioner or even worse, her disregard for the position.

The work of the PSC involves more than evaluating new energy sources, but clearly that is a critical part of the job. The PSC does not propose new energy sources – it evaluates the proposals. And the only way the analysis of new sources can be done within the stated PSC objective of ensuring that the utility services are “affordable, reliable and sustainable for the long term” is to be unbiased in the analysis, taking all new project proposals on their merits.

In other words, my opponent has already disqualified herself from the position. She has already made up her mind - as she has in the past. The chair of the Flathead County Health Board when she was a member wrote, “She preached and did not listen. She opposed testimony of medical experts... and substituted her own... views.” I don’t know her motivation, but I do know that advocacy for a particular view is in no way acting in the best interests of the Montana households and businesses that will pay for her decision making.

In my 40-year career in private sector finance, I evaluated hundreds of capital investment projects. My colleagues and I approached this work objectively. That’s how non-political, rational decision-making works. To do otherwise would risk eliminating better options in favor of putting resources in inefficient, suboptimal projects.

Technology advances are placing us on the cusp of major changes in how energy will be generated, stored, and used. These changes will cause disruption – and the PSC is where this disruption will need be resolved. Balancing the economic impacts of this disruption will be difficult, serious work. Doing this work well will require disciplined, objective analysis – and there is only one candidate in this race that can deliver on that.

Montana households and businesses cannot afford to have partisan politics continue to be the driver of our energy future. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can begin to change that with a vote on Nov. 8.

John Repke

PSC District 5 Candidate

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