Our Interview with PSC Candidate Monica Tranel: The Experience and Background to Restore Professionalism to the PSC

Image from candidate web site

In our interview with PSC District 4 candidate Monica Tranel, it became apparent almost immediately that she has a deep understanding of the history and role of the Public Service Commission, as well as the regulatory issues the agency deals with.

Tranel, who has worked at the PSC and on energy issues in private legal practice for the past twenty years, argued that she will, if elected, put her focus on doing the core job of the PSC commissioners: reading material, preparing for meetings, and forcefully cross-examining utilities who come to the commission arguing that they need to increase rates or pass costs to the consumers.

Listen to the interview below or anywhere you get your podcasts.

Tranel said she was inspired to run for the Public Service Commission after hearing a commissioner declare at one proceeding that wind turbines were dangerous and that carbon emissions are good for the planet:

So for the last 20 years, I have been practicing law in one form or another, either before or at the commission. So my clients in private practice over the last number of years have been renewable energy producers and developers, and I’ve represented ranchers who want solar and wind on their ground. So last summer I was in a proceeding at the commission for a project trying to get a wind project built. And in the middle of a of a hearing, the commissioners said things like wind turbines are dangerous. They fly off and kill people. They spew chemicals into the air. And one commissioner said climate change isn’t real and that the emissions of CO2 emissions actually has a greening effect on the planet.

When asked about the threat of climate change, Tranel argued that we must respond now:

This is the issue of our time. The science demands a response. The science demands that we prepare and plan for this and we are seeing right now in the world we’re living in today. We know that just because you can’t see something, you can’t touch it, you can’t feel it. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare for it. It doesn’t mean it’s a real threat. I mean, look at what’s happening in Italy. And we need to prepare for things. This is the issue of our time. And we need to sit down and figure out a solution. I’m running for this because we can’t wait four more years. We can’t wait another year. We cannot afford to have commissioners who don’t understand how important the issues are and how to solve them. We need leadership, and that requires experience and knowledge and engagement at the commission.

She’s also running because she believes that we need to restore professionalism and faith in our government and public institutions:

There is this calculated, intentional effort to dismantle our government at the expense of everyday Americans who cannot afford to pay more money to an out-of-state corporate for profit utility who can’t afford to be paying taxes when there is this huge tax break, given that stays in place for ever for the corporations…. We need to be paying attention to the issues that are actually happening in the substantive, important ways that our democracy is threatened.

Our institutions are fragile and we need to we need to repair them. We need to heal them. And we need to do that by recognizing the importance of civil servants, people who’ve been in government their whole lives and do incredible work and, you know, to reward them and to provide some leadership and in our elected officials. So I think it’s it’s imperative that we elect commissioners this year who can remove that noise and attend to the issues at hand, which are life threatening.

Give the interview a listen anywhere you listen to podcasts.

If you are interested in learning more about Tranel, visit her website or Facebook page


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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • Tranel supports the natural gas fracking plants that Northwestern Energy is proposing, clearly not concerned about the climate crisis. Free-market principles won’t save us from the utility monopolies taking advantage of Montanans.

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