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Molnar pledges to continue work for consumers

Public Service Commissioner Brad Molnar kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday in typically feisty fashion, saying he will be battling well-funded opponents who want to "silence" his voice against special interests. Molnar, a Laurel Republican representing the PSC's southeastern Montana district, said he has spent four years fighting - and sometimes losing - battles on behalf of consumers, voting against actions he says have raised electric and gas rates. ...When asked which "high-ranking politicians" he has exposed as raising utility rates and taxes, Molnar pointed to the federal tax credit for wind power producers. The credit could go to wind power developers in northern Montana that plan to sell power to Canada, thereby using federal tax credits to subsidize power consumed by Canadians, he said.

Public Service Commissioner Brad Molnar kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday in typically feisty fashion, saying he will be battling well-funded opponents who want to "silence" his voice against special interests.

Molnar, a Laurel Republican representing the PSC's southeastern Montana district, said he has spent four years fighting - and sometimes losing - battles on behalf of consumers, voting against actions he says have raised electric and gas rates.

"Because I have opposed every, yes, every special interest that has tried to make ratepayers and taxpayers fund their financial adventures, my opponent will be well-funded," he said.

'Let the games begin'

"Because I have exposed how high-ranking politicians raise utility bills and taxes, my opponent will have tremendous support, and my support will have to come from ratepayers, most of whom have no idea how hard I have fought for them, or even what the PSC does," Molnar said. "Let the games begin." Molnar, 57, is running for re-election in District 2, which includes 10 southeastern Montana counties and the cities of Billings, Miles City and Red Lodge. Three-fourths of the district's voters are in Yellowstone County.

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Public Service Commissioner Brad Molnar kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday in typically feisty fashion, saying he will be battling well-funded opponents who want to "silence" his voice against special interests.

Molnar, a Laurel Republican representing the PSC's southeastern Montana district, said he has spent four years fighting - and sometimes losing - battles on behalf of consumers, voting against actions he says have raised electric and gas rates.

"Because I have opposed every, yes, every special interest that has tried to make ratepayers and taxpayers fund their financial adventures, my opponent will be well-funded," he said.

'Let the games begin'

"Because I have exposed how high-ranking politicians raise utility bills and taxes, my opponent will have tremendous support, and my support will have to come from ratepayers, most of whom have no idea how hard I have fought for them, or even what the PSC does," Molnar said. "Let the games begin." Molnar, 57, is running for re-election in District 2, which includes 10 southeastern Montana counties and the cities of Billings, Miles City and Red Lodge. Three-fourths of the district's voters are in Yellowstone County.

He easily won election in 2004 against Democrat Russ Doty, a little-known opponent.

Challenging Molnar

This year, two Democrats are running for the nomination to challenge Molnar in the general election: Billings Mayor Ron Tussing and union electrician Tom Curry, also of Billings.

Molnar, the former owner of a grain-bin-construction business in Laurel, was a state representative from 1993 to 2000.

Molnar is one of five elected public service commissioners, who regulate utilities such as telephone, electric and natural gas companies in the state.

In campaign material distributed Tuesday, Molnar cited his opposition to regulated electric and gas rate charges that fund conservation and alternative-energy programs - charges approved by a majority of the commission.

Consumers can be shown how to conserve voluntarily without having government-mandated programs funded by the ratepayers, he said.

He also cited his objections to the contract given the 135-megawatt Judith Gap wind farm, saying the cost to NorthWestern Energy consumers for the wind power project will end up being higher than initially advertised.

"I said we should protect the consumers, and (the rest of the commission) said no, and it turns out I was right," he said Tuesday.

Molnar said he supports wind power development "when it makes sense for consumers," such as the new Willow Creek wind farm near Baker, developed by Montana-Dakota Utilities.

He also touted his opposition to the proposed $2.2 billion purchase of NorthWestern Energy by an Australian-controlled company, Babcock & Brown Infrastructure. The commission voted 5-0 last year to reject the proposed buyout.

When asked which "high-ranking politicians" he has exposed as raising utility rates and taxes, Molnar pointed to the federal tax credit for wind power producers. The credit could go to wind power developers in northern Montana that plan to sell power to Canada, thereby using federal tax credits to subsidize power consumed by Canadians, he said.


Source: http://www.billingsgazette....

MAR 12 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/13798-molnar-pledges-to-continue-work-for-consumers
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