Power Brokers

It's arguably one of Montana's most tragic stories. It led to the demise of Montana Power, the state's only Fortune 500 Company, and it pushed power prices into the stratosphere. While most know how the experiment in Electricity Deregulation ended, few know how it all began. In this hour-long documentary, Montana PBS investigates the sources of the deregulation movement and the subsequent power crisis. The documentary uncovers surprising relationships and business connections that would eventually cast a shadow over former Governor Marc Racicot and draw Montana Power into a federal investigation. (First Aired Thursday, March 04, 2010)

Upcoming MontanaPBS air dates
      Tuesday 8/12 at 8:00pm
      Thursday 8/14 at 1:00am

MontanaPBS Documentary Examines 1990‘s Electricity Deregulation

Power Lines in Montana

A new MontanaPBS documentary, “Power Brokers,” challenges the long-established assumptions of how Montana’s legislature came to adopt one of the most sweeping changes in state economic history – the deregulation of electric power rates in 1997. The program premieres on MontanaPBS on Tuesday, March 2 at 8:00 p.m.

For more than a year, MontanaPBS investigative reporter Anna Rau, who also wrote and produced the documentary, researched the origins of the deregulation movement, interviewed principle players in the legislature, the Public Service Commission, power industry experts and consumer advocates.

The documentary details why the Montana Power Company pushed so hard to pass a deregulation bill, then surprised many stakeholders by selling all the company’s power generation assets. The power company’s leadership sank most of the proceeds into the burgeoning telecommunications industry, dropping the MPC moniker for “Touch America.” Just four years later, caught in the telecommunications glut of 1999, the company declared bankruptcy, wiping out stock investments held by thousands of Montana households.

Power Brokers Documentary Logo

Rau's report reveals the roles of then-Governor Marc Racicot and members of his administration in deregulation, and the outside interests driving the nationwide deregulation movement.

MontanaPBS is a collaborative service of KUFM-TV at The University of Montana and KUSM-TV at Montana State University. Check local listings for channel.

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