Articles written by Monica Tranel

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  • Congress must act on Montana's housing crisis

    Monica Tranel, attorney and candidate for Montana western District for U.S. Congress|May 2, 2024

    For the past six months I have been talking to hundreds of Montanans about their concerns and hopes for the future, and the one issue that comes up every time is housing. Some of our neighbors and their kids are living on the streets. Young families who would like to live here can’t afford to. Businesses, like Pyramid Lumber in Seeley Lake, are closing down because the workers they need can’t afford to live in town. There’s no doubt about it: the housing crisis is severe and it’s doing real damage to communities throughout western Montana...

  • $100 million rate heist?

    Monica Tranel, candidate for Montana western District for U.S. Congress|Nov 2, 2023

    As the first snow is falling, and freezing temperatures hit, we are getting pummeled with another huge energy rate increase, thanks to the five Republicans on the Montana Public Service Commission. On Wednesday the Commission unanimously approved a 28% rate increase from last year, the majority of which will fall on small businesses and residential users – renters and homeowners. This historical rate hike goes into effect Nov. 1 – meaning that the heat you need right now is costing you nearly one-third more than what you were paying before thi...

  • GOP strategy to help the housing crisis is to increase homeowner property taxes

    Monica Tranel, Western Montana congressional candidate|Aug 24, 2023

    Across western Montana, people are being squeezed out of their homes and communities by rising prices. Teaching positions go unfilled – and no one is applying to fill them because a $40k salary - the high end of starting teacher salaries in Montana, doesn’t afford a home, even if you’re lucky to find a house for sale in rural places like Seeley Lake. The 2023 Montana GOP had a super-majority and a $2.9 billion surplus, thanks to federal democratic policies. Armed with power and money, the Montana GOP imposed a permanent tax increase on resid...

  • NorthWestern's Coal Kings want every one of us to pay them $15,000

    Monica Tranel|Apr 1, 2021

    Senate Bill 379, currently being considered by the Montana Legislature, may be a dream come true for Northwestern Energy, but for ordinary, hardworking Montanans, it’s a nightmare. In 2008, Northwestern bought a 30% share of the Colstrip 4 generating station for $187 million. The Montana Consumer Counsel testified that the book value of Unit 4 was $37 million, but NorthWestern managed to convince the PSC that it was worth a lot more than that: $404 million! The PSC decided that Northwestern could recover all that, plus a 10% return, from its cu...

  • The right to fair pay and fair rates

    Monica Tranel|Feb 18, 2021

    In 1883 Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt attended a fancy-dress ball that outshone any ball New York had seen, wearing her electric light dress. Railroad tycoons like Cornelius Vanderbilt hosted such opulent affairs with profits from their monopoly corporations. The starvation wages they paid their workers led to the Great Uprising of 1877 and the Pullman Strike of 1894. In the late 1800s, when collective bargaining arose, 10% of the U.S. population owned more than 70% of the nation’s assets. This structural inequality contributed to the upheaval t...

  • The risk of failing to plan should be on monopolies' investors, not Montanans

    Monica Tranel|Jan 28, 2021

    In deciding whether my daughter would walk to kindergarten, like any parent, I assessed the risk involved. Now that she’s in high school, we have different risks to consider. Risk management is something we all do every day. Monopoly utilities like NorthWestern Energy, Montana Dakota Utilities, and rural cooperatives also manage risk. As regulated utilities, NorthWestern and MDU are required to file a plan with the Public Service Commission evaluating the most cost-effective way to serve Montanans, considering all resource alternatives. N...

  • Montanans should not be forced to pay monopolies a profit on COVID losses

    Monica Tranel|Jan 14, 2021

    Most Montanans have suffered losses from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve shipped cattle at low prices, our fairgrounds have taken hits of hundreds of thousands of dollars and restaurants have closed. Our hospitals continue to incur significant financial losses to care for patients while overextending health care workers. Most of us will not be able to make up the setbacks we’ve experienced in the last year. In contrast, the largest monopoly corporations in Montana want to benefit from the pandemic. NorthWestern Ene...

  • We all deserve better from the PSC

    Monica Tranel, Missoula, Montana|Oct 15, 2020

    In two recent decisions, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the Public Service Commission (PSC) broke the law when it imposed harsh contract terms on renewable energy developers who sought to sell power to the state’s largest regulated utility. These rulings were welcome not only because they opened the path to future renewable energy development, but also because they affirmed a fundamental principle of American democracy: Nobody—no person, nor government official, nor government agency—is above the law. In another way, however, the rulin...

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