DOJ: News Release

McGrath Asks PSC to Consider Taxpayer Liability in MPC Sale

HELENA – Attorney General Mike McGrath on Tuesday asked the Public Service Commission to allow his office to intervene in two proceedings involving Montana Power Company proposals – the sale of the company’s electricity transmission and distribution assets, and its electric utility restructuring transition plan.

The petitions filed with the PSC noted that the proposed sale includes the transfer of the Milltown Dam and Reservoir. Because 6.6 million cubic yards of toxic waste has built up behind the 100-year-old, concrete-reinforced wooden dam, the area has been designated a national Superfund site.

“The proposed transfer of liability for hazards associated with the Milltown Dam and Reservoir raises matters of great public importance,” the petitions said.

To date, the Environmental Protection Agency has not released a formal “record of decision” regarding its proposal for remediation of the dam and the surrounding area.

“It’s my concern that taxpayers don’t get stuck paying the tab if the EPA requires removal of the dam,” McGrath explained. “If the EPA reaches that conclusion after the PSC approves the sale, it’s possible that the State of Montana could find itself left holding the bag. By intervening now, we hope to prevent that.”

The attorney general noted that intervention would allow his office to access and review documents MPC has filed with the PSC in the two proceedings.

Citing the attorney general’s “ongoing obligation to protect the public interest in matters of public importance,” the petitions argued that the restructuring of the electric industry in Montana and the proposed sale of Montana Power Company’s assets to NorthWestern Corporation are sufficiently important to warrant McGrath’s intervention.

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