Just got a phone call from our very own Public Service commissioner, Brad Molnar, R-Laurel, who says that the PSC voted today to deny a rehearing to Babcock and Brown Infrastructure on its $2.2 billion proposal to buy NorthWestern Energy. The vote was 5-0.
BBI can still appeal the decision or file for a new case, Molnar said.
He said that most commissioners were concerned that the request for rehearing contained deficiencies. His own concerns had to do with a couple of issues:
* BBI proposed to build a new transmission line that eventually would have made Colstrip electricity available for sale in California, driving up Montana rates.
* Fraudulent claims by NorthWestern Energy when it acquired Montana Power Co.'s assets cost Montana ratepayers $300 million, he said, and the proposal includes only $20 million in rate relief. "That's not a dime on the dollar," he said.
BBI also would take NWE profits out of Montana while leaving local ratepayers with debt, Molnar said. "It's like living on a credit card," he said.
The PSC plans a final vote on denying the purchase next week. The Lee State Bureau story is here.