Joel Krautter

Rep. Joel Krautter spoke to MDU about the impact of the Lewis and Clark Station closure during the community meeting Monday, July 15, in Sidney.

Rep. Joel Krautter sent a letter to the Public Service Commission (PSC) in Helena on Dec. 31 requesting a status update from the public hearing held in October concerning the MDU Lewis and Clark Station closure.

“As you saw and heard from the standing-room only group of Richland County residents who made the approximately 1000 mile round-trip journey to Helena to testify at the meeting about the potentially catastrophic impact the plant’s closure could have on our area, grave concerns exist about whether this decision really is in the best interest of Montana ratepayers,” Krautter wrote.

The letter continued, “On behalf of the many people of House District 35 who have livelihoods at risk of being negatively impacted through this situation, and those who traveled to Helena to share their concerns, I would kindly request a status update from the Commission since the October 29th, 2019, meeting.”

Krautter specified the following questions to be addressed in an update:

How the public comment received by the Commission from Richland County residents may be taken into consideration in any future discussions with MDU?

Whether the Commission intends to readdress this matter in January or at some other time?

What other avenues may exist for concerned members of the public to request the review of MDU’s Lewis and Clark Station closure decision?

In an email, Krautter said he got the feeling at the October meeting that Richland County is facing an uphill battle to prevent the station closure.

“But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore all options available to us and that’s what local leaders have been doing,” he said. “I’ve been a part of discussions with local officials and concerned citizens about whether there may be someone that could purchase the plant, but have not heard any updates on possibility since the October PSC meeting. The best way to try and mitigate the potential economic repercussions is to continue to support policies that encourage more economic development, and to support efforts to diversify our local economy.”

PSC communications director Drew Zinecker said the commissioners had just received the letter on Monday, Jan. 6, and have not yet had a chance to review it.

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