Update: Utilties/School Funding (No. 109)

First Aired Thursday, June 24, 2004

Since our last report, in February, there have been big developments in the Breakaway Utilities story. Here we focus on various entities' efforts to buy the transmission assets of bankrupt Northwestern Energy Corp. and what changes a successful purchase might mean. Also, in the school funding case we reported on in April, Columbia School District et al. v. the State of Montana, Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Montana Focus looks at Governor Martz's decision to appeal that ruling to the state Supreme Court and the Legislative Finance Committee's struggles to come up with a budget for public education. Produced by Gene Brodeur and Scott Sterling for KUSM-MontanaPBS, MSU-Bozeman. 

EPISODE DETAILS - 1st Segment: Public Service Commissioners Jergeson, Raney, Mood, and Molnar talk about the fact that deregulation is here to stay, but can be modified to provide customers with more choices. One being, a PSC approval for NorthWestern Energy to proceed with a 20 year contract to buy wind powered energy from a 150 megawatt wind turbine farm near Judith Gap. In the legislature, Great Falls Rep. George Golie loses a bid to allow the electric city to create its own utility district. Rep. Alan Olson tried to advance a bill that would have allowed for companies like NorthWestern to generate as well as deliver electrical power to their customers. 2nd Segment: Chuck Johnson, Lee Newspaper Capitol Bureau Chief, looks at the wind farm proposal and the school funding issue facing the 2005 legislature. 3rd Segment: Governor Schweitzer wants to lure Hollywood producers to the Big Sky, but the jury is still out on incentives to keep them from heading across the border to Canada, where it’s cheaper to make movies about Montana. 4th Segment: And, film student Lacy Wittman visits a Jane Fonda workshop aimed at building confidence in young girls.