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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Q&A: Jeff Welborn, Republican Candidate for PSC District 3

REAL Montana class of 2017. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham
Kelly Gorham
REAL Montana class of 2017. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham
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What is your full name as it will appear on ballots?

Jeff Welborn

What is your age? 

55

Where do you live? 

Dillon, MT

What is your education background?

Beaverhead County HS, May Technical College, Business/Communications

Please list your current and previous occupations. 

Own and Operate Stock Drive Trailer Sales, LLC 2003-Present, Montana State Senate 2017-2025, House of Representatives 2008-16

What motivated you to seek a seat on the Public Service Commission?

I have the knowledge and most would agree, the earned respect, to effectively and honorably serve the people of Montana as the next public service commissioner for District #3.



As a long-time public servant, and small business owner, I have the experience needed to protect customers from unfair rate increases, and promote investment in Montana’s energy future.



I have experience in energy policy, a strong background in transportation, natural resources, and budgeting, where I have served as chair, vice chair or ranking Senate Republican on all these respective committees during my 16-years in the Legislature. I understand the role of the commission work, and the challenges facing Montana energy producers.

What are your top  three priorities for the Public Service Commission and how would you focus on these in your role? 

Protect customers from unfair rate increases.


Promote investment in Montana’s energy present and future that result in reliability.


Ensure the voices of our rural communities – and our farmers and ranchers, in particular – are elevated in the Commission’s work.

Do you think the PSC has a role in addressing climate change and, if so, what is it? 

I believe the free market should dictate that, and renewables need to stand on their own, in relationship to affordability to the consumer, and not propped up with higher rates or subsidies that the consumer ultimately pays for, either with increased rates, or tax dollars respectively, used to offset the additional cost of any mandate created by climate change policy.

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What does effective regulation of the state’s monopoly utilities look like?

I will work hard to restore trust in the agency by ensuring the PSC remains laser focused on its essential regulatory, and public safety responsibilities, 
Montana’s long-term energy security depends on maintaining a business friendly climate for energy investment. As a Commissioner, I will work with colleagues in the legislature and the development community to remove barriers that restrict investment and drive up utility bills.

Increasingly, Montana’s energy policy is dictated by forces outside our borders. We need Montana based resources, capable of delivering in all weather conditions.

Whether at regional energy forums, public hearings before the environmental protection agency, or department of energy, our Commissioners need to play a more active role in discussions, & decisions impacting customers and generation facilities in the state.

I welcome the opportunity to lead that effort.Equally as important as my experience, and my ability to listen and represent. That’s the kind of policy makerI’ve been my entire career. I think it comes from being a business owner, where I’ve had to be responsive to customers for so long. I like to solve problems, and I have a track record of bringing some common sense to Helena.


If elected, how would you work to provide more affordable electricity for Montana residents and small businesses?

Despite the promise of wind and solar, the intermittent nature of the resource combined with the lack of energy density, and huge amounts of land required mean that wind and solar simply can’t form the bedrock of our energy system. I’m however intrigued by the research being done in battery storage capacity. As storage capacity becomes greater in respect to time, this will help renewables, that have intermittent generation capabilities, become a more viable, and therefore affordable option.

I also see nuclear having some potential down the road, but in my mind, hydrogen shows the most promise as an additional, carbon free resource, that could be produced here in Montana, and has ability to be stored in the ground, to be used on demand at later time.

Rounding out renewables, Hydro power is still the original clean, green energy, we have infrastructure already in place, so investments in maintaining and improving hydro will remain an affordable option for Montana.

Until we have a more robust storage component in place for wind and solar, thermal resources such as natural gas, existing coal generation, and especially hydropower will remain essential components of our energy mix.

What can commissioners do to build public trust and transparency in the PSC’s work? 

Educate the public on the role of the PSC, and like any public process, encourage folks to take an active role in the process itself by communicating with their respective PSC commissioners, and more importantly the Ratepayer’s Advocate Agency, The Montana Consumer Council, by having a hand in setting the policy that affects all Montanans.

Commissioners need to be good listeners, and keep an open mind, in order to strike a fair balance between reliable and affordable service rates.

Simply put its putting people ahead of politics, while also keeping the providers in a position of viability, so they continue to provide vital services to all Montana rate payers.

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