Tester, Baucus urge Energy Department to listen to Montanans

Senators successfully call on Energy Secretary to include local input, consider Montana's electric coopertives' unique needs

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus scored a win for Montanans this week by making sure they have a voice in the Department of Energy’s new plan for upgrading the nation’s power grid. Earlier this month, the senators successfully requested a 60-day public comment period. Montanans will now have until January 22, 2013 to submit comments on the proposal.

“Montana’s rural electric cooperatives power our rural communities and strengthen our rural economies,” said Tester. “I encourage all Montanans to make their voices heard so our rural co-ops have the flexibility they need to continue providing affordable energy for small businesses and hard-working Montana families.”

“Montana jobs rely on making sure our rural electric cooperatives can keep energy costs down for our families and small businesses. I’m going to keep pressuring the Energy Department to listen to our unique needs in Montana and guard against a one-size-fits-all approach to upgrading the power grid,” said Baucus.

Since the Department of Energy first announced plans to restructure the power grid, Tester and Baucus have been pressing the agency to listen to Montana’s electric cooperatives and the more than 400,000 Montanans they serve.

Timeline of action:

April 2012: Tester and Baucus wrote a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu highlighting 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

August 2012: Baucus meets with Montana’s electric cooperatives and pushes the Department of Energy to sit down again with Montanans to understand the impacts of proposed changes.

November 14, 2012: Tester and Baucus press the Department of Energy to allow for a 60 day public comment period on its plans for upgrading the nation’s power grid.

Public comment information:

DEADLINE: All comments should be received by the Western Area Power Administration at the address below on or before 4PM Mountain Standard Time, January 22, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments via email to the Joint Outreach Team at:

Comments may also be delivered by certified mail or commercial mail to:
Anita J. Decker,
Acting Administrator, Western Area
Power Administration, P.O. Box 281213,
Lakewood, CO 80228-8213 or fax to
(720) 962-7059.