Electricity Deregulation in MT
Posted by Mary Catherine Dunphy (+1270) 5 months ago
Ken Toole has written an interesting "Guest Opinion" in the Billings Gazette, (March 4, 2017) about Montana's experience with deregulated electricity which happened 20 years ago. Turns out it wasn't such a great idea or, more importantly, policy to adopt here in Montana. But back then, Governor Racicot and many legislators thought it would be great to deregulate electricity. History has shown otherwise. It is a quintessential "how not to do business" story which should be taught in business schools across the country as there are lessons to be learned from this experience.

http://billingsgazette.co...1eb75.html
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+2
founder
supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+8670) 5 months ago
Destroyed Montana Power. Used to be called a 'widows and orphans' stock because it was dependable. We lost thousands of our first retirement fund to that disaster. Thank you, Wall Street bankers.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+1
Posted by Oddjob (+108) 5 months ago
Back in the day, the most popular college professor teaching at any Montana college was K. Ross Toole. Toole was a history professor at U of M and his classes were an absolute "must take", no matter what your major was. Toole was an excellent story teller and his Montana history classes were jamb-packed and entertaining. Toole influenced at least one generation of Montanans and possibly more during the course of his tenure at U of M.

So, you ask, how does K. Ross Toole, who died in 1981, tie into this?

There were three things that K. Ross Toole absolutely hated and he structured his lectures and books to concentrate on every perceived evil these three entities had ever done. The three things Toole hated were:

The Anaconda Company
The Montana Power Company
Any timber company (Anaconda)

Toole was a a green commie and he hated those entities for all the usual reasons green commies hate all corporate entities. Monopoly, money, political power, resource extraction and pollution. But Toole wasn't just a voice crying in the wilderness. Toole had a pulpit to preach his green hatred to thousands of up and coming influential Montana citizens. The same Montana citizens who became true believers in that to diminish the power of these entities and break up their monopolies had to be a good thing. As these true believers became the power brokers in the State, they did just that.

You can bet your sweet bippy those folks cheered the failure of the Anaconda Company and were the biggest cheerleaders for the deregulation of Montana Power. K. Ross Toole (among others) greased the political skids for the demise of these corporations and his students greatly facilitated it happening. The wreckage left behind is a big part of Toole's legacy.

This article was written by a Mr. Ken Toole. If this is fellow is the son of K. Ross Toole, I think it's a bit disingenuous of him to be pointing fingers at any one group, considering his fathers influence on a generation of Montanans from all walks.

(If this gentleman is not who I think he is, my apologies in advance for drawing the inference. Nonetheless he should read K. Ross Toole's books to gain perspective)
Top
Posted by Tande (+108) 5 months ago
Ken Toole is indeed the son of K Ross Toole's and a former Public Service Commissioner.

[Edited by Tande (3/5/2017 4:30:24 PM)]
Top
supporter
Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+9364) 5 months ago
Oddjob, you may have topped yourself on this one for conspiracy theories. If I am reading you correctly, you are insinuating that K. Ross Toole's lectures visibly warped young college student Marc Racicot to turn him into a (albeit a closeted one) green commie. Fast forward to the future, and now Governor Racicot, still a green commie but pretending to be a staunch Republican, support utility deregulation, not because of his belief of the power of the free market, but because he wants to smash their stranglehold monopoly on the State of Montana.

Why stop there? U of M college students who fell under the sway of K. Ross Toole (obviously the Charles Manson of Montana) now disperse across the country, joining the Republican party, and starting monopoly bustingenergy deregulation throughout the country. Why, they even get to the great Decider-in-Chief, George W. Bush, and we all end up happy with the Enron fiasco. But, the monopolies are now dead, so who cares?

Thanks. I needed a good laugh.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+3
moderator
founder
Posted by David Schott (+10503) 5 months ago
Reply to Gunnar Emilsson (#371049)
Wasn't John Connors (U of M) on the board of MTP when they decided to transform themselves into Touch America? Am I detecting a pattern here?
Top
supporter
Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+9364) 5 months ago
Dave, you are onto something. I just Googled Bob Gannon, CEO of Montana Power then Touch America, and discovered that he was (gasp!) a 1969 graduate of the U of M law school.

The plot sickens.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+1
moderator
founder
Posted by David Schott (+10503) 5 months ago
Reply to Gunnar Emilsson (#371052)
I knew it!
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+1
moderator
founder
Posted by David Schott (+10503) 5 months ago
Wait a minute:

"During the last election, Connors was involved in GOP campaigns and was named to gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi’s transition team."

Seattle Times: Microsoft’s finance chief quits

What, what, what? GOP? Inconceivable!
Top
Posted by Oddjob (+108) 5 months ago
No conspiracy theory involved Gunnar. I was present for it. I witnessed it. I sat through many months of it. I was there the day Toole brought ski mask-wearing domestic terrorists into class, to tell us how they were furthering the human cause by dynamiting high voltage towers in Minnesota. The only people in the class who reacted negatively to that were a few older students who tried to hold them for the cops. Toole made sure they had an escape route out the back. The ever-present stoners were applauding the terrorists efforts..

Like I said; there were three things K. Ross Toole absolutely despised.

1) Anaconda Company
2) Montana Power
3) Anaconda Company

For 15 years, Toole's classes were packed to the rafters with empty headed stoners hoping to experience something of their heritage. Instead they got a daily dose of how they had been screwed, blued and tattooed by the above named and similar evil dished by timber interests and railroads. Who do you think put the Legislators asses in the seats in Helena? Lots of UM grads and their pals is my guess.

Montana Democrats and Republicans were all on board with this classic hosing of themselves. The Democrats that did vote against it were more miffed at how the bill had been written, than what was in it. The mood was to smash the last monopoly and the spirit of Toole played Madame DeFarge. The perps had been well prepped and were all too stupid to see that Enron and Raciot were in it for the money. Nevertheless, the industrial wreckage of Montana is, in part, Toole's legacy and for his son to point fingers after the fact, is shameless.
Top
moderator
founder
Posted by David Schott (+10503) 5 months ago

"Let's go blow up some power poles, Professor Toole!"
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+2
supporter
Posted by Bridgier (+7441) 5 months ago
Cool story bro...
Top
founder
supporter
sponsor
Posted by Hal Neumann (+7988) 5 months ago
“Lines of Copper, Tears of Glass: the Birth, Growth and Death of the Montana Power Company”
--Francis Joseph Johnson
Thesis, Department of History, MSU, Bozeman 1980
Available here
http://scholarworks.monta...dle/1/1570
Top
supporter
Posted by Jeri Dalbec (+1835) 5 months ago
This is an interesting blog. I wonder if some of their business practices did not speed up their demise in many ways. I worked for an Oil and Gas Company in the 70's and MPC had a practice of purchasing the Gas from a discovery and then shutting it in until they needed it. They did a process called "Take or Pay". I found it interesting that they paid $100K up front to the Company....and, alas, when the well I am thinking of "watered out", we only had to pay it back $10K per year.

Thinking about how often they were probably doing that, made me think that someone interim was picking up the pending losses. I remember asking Tom Schneider of the PSC about it at a town meeting in Billings and he did not answer. Then...a slowing industry, Enron, Deregulation and you know the story. I remember people being so proud of their MPC stock...tough times.
Top
Posted by Mary Catherine Dunphy (+1270) 5 months ago
This article is a little dated (2003) but it deals with what happened in Montana when Marc Racicot was Governor (1993-2001). It wasn't just the Montana Power Company's employees, investors and retirees that suffered. It was also the citizens of Montana who suffered in numerous other bad deals.

How about the $50 million dollars that got spent on a computer system that didn't work? the $100 million spent on the construction of new prisons (built by political donors) at at time when there was an overcapacity of prison beds? and,the $400 million scheme to privatize Montana’s mental health care system which failed less than two years after it was put in place. There's even more bad stuff that happened during Racicot's tenure as governor if you care to read it at:

http://www.counterpunch.o...-main-man/

After Racicot left Montana to become a Washington lobbyist, one of his most notorious clients was Enron. Then George W. Bush appointed him to be head of the Republican Party.

Thanks for the bad memories, Marc! Please stay in the swamp that is D.C.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+1