Senators Call on Energy Secretary to Provide Certainty for Montana’s Electric Cooperatives

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester are urging U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to work with them on a timeline for implementing the Department of Energy’s new plan for upgrading the nation’s power grid. The plan would affect the Bonneville Power Administration and Western Area Power Administration who serve electric cooperatives that provide electricity to over 400,000 Montanans.

Baucus and Tester highlighted the following key issues affecting Montana as the Department of Energy looks to implement new plans for upgrading the nation’s electric delivery system:

  • The importance of local control and input on national energy delivery plans
  • The importance of providing clarity and cost certainty for Montana’s rural electric cooperatives as federal changes are implemented

“As the nation looks to modernize the grid, it’s critical that Montana families and businesses need to know they can afford to keep the lights on. It’s also essential for the Department of Energy to understand that we need a balanced approach to upgrading the grid so that our rural electric cooperatives can continue to keep energy costs low for Montana customers,” said Baucus.

“Bonneville and Western Area Power provide reliable, low-cost energy to thousands of Montanans,” Tester said.  “Any efforts to streamline those agencies must benefit Montana consumers, first and foremost.”

"We voiced our serious concerns that potential actions DOE proposed implementing, that would affect  WAPA and BPA, could hurt the 40,000 Montanans that  we provide electricity to. Max and Jon reacted to our concerns with a letter to Secretary Chu that addresses many areas of concern, we thank our Senators for helping us get a fair shake," said Doug Hardy, General Manager of Central Montana Electric Power Cooperative.

Text of letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Chu is available online HERE.