Montana Dakota Utilities, which until recently operated a clean coal-powered plant in Sidney, scuttled the muti-hundred-million dollar facility. Its closure all but makes certain the stoppage of operation of the nearby Savage Coal Mine, which will in turn, likely shut down the Holly Sugar plant (or at least, that is a reasonable fear and common talk of discussion in the small town. Sidney, in the Yellowstone River Valley, has an economy that is structured heavily upon the production of sugar beets. Without the plant, there’s no feasible and affordable way to get beets to the factory, leaving many Sidney residents wondering what to plant that comes close to the profitability of beets. Like it or not, cannabis is a leading contender.
Well, after scuttling the MDU plant – a staple in the community of Sidney for decades, after claiming the lay-offs and removal of this important infrastructure would save money, it appears that MDU is asking for more money from their utility customers.
Standing in their way is Public Service Commissioner Randy Pinocci, who has done everything humanly possible to (A) keep MDU from closing, to begin with and (B) keep MDU from rate-hiking Eastern Montana ratepayers.
Throughout the clip, Pinocci makes subjectively clear to the listener that he is not likely to approve any increase of MDU rate-payers and shows clear disdain that the facility was scuttled to supposedly save money, while now asking for more money from people who pay their utility bills.
Pinocci told the Montana Daily Gazette, the #1 news outlet in Montana, “The people of my district elected me to provide fairness between electricity providers and the people who pay their electric bills. This meeting was personally infuriating. We were told closing the structure would save money, even though I disagreed. Now, we’re talking rate hikes. This is unbelievable.”
Pinocci went on to criticize MDU’s wind turbines and pointed out that the wind turbines are currently running down and wearing out before they’re being paid for, and buried in Wyoming. Pinocci asked why these aren’t guaranteed that the wind turbines will at least outlive them being paid for. It seems that Sidney gave up a working facility for unworking technology, and MDU wants the rate payer to ante up (again).
Pinocci said, “None of this makes any sense. People in Sidney and Richland County need to know what’s going on, and all of this affects our energy security.”
Pinocci spoke up for voters in Sindey and Richland County and said that we are proud our facility still works and could be put back into working order, despite MDU’s hell-bent intention to charge rate-payers to put up ineffectual windmills. MDU seemed unable to answer any of his questions.
Pinocci appeared on Montana Gazette Radio to discuss this evening. Watch below, starting at the 106.40 minute mark.