Posted: Jan 8, 2013 8:49 AM by MTN News
HELENA - The new members of the Montana Public Service Commission were sworn in on Monday in Helena with former Flathead resident and businessman Bill Gallagher tapped as the new head of the PSC.
The PSC was unanimous in picking Gallagher, who represents Flathead, Glacier, Lewis and Clark, Teton, Pondera and Lake counties on the PSC's District 5 seat, as the new chairman.
Gallagher, 54, managed insurance offices in Kalispell, Polson, Missoula, Deer Lodge and Plains, where he lived and taught high school. He and his wife, Jennifer, operated a tourism-oriented business and are the former owners of the Polson Days Inn.
Gallagher, who currently lives in Helena, said in a news release that his priority as the agency's leader is representing the public and not special interests or their lobbyists.
"I am confident that I assume leadership of a Public Service Commission that will not forget it is the public that we are responsible to," Gallagher, a Republican, said. "It is a new day."
Montana Supreme Court Justice James A. Rice gave the oath on Monday to incoming commissioners Bob Lake, (R-Hamilton), Roger Koopman, (R-Bozeman), and Kirk Bushman, (R-Billings), who join current members Gallagher and Travis Kavulla, (R-Great Falls), to form the state's first all-Republican PSC.
The new commission also unanimously elected Lake to serve as vice chairman. In their acceptance speeches, both Gallagher and Lake acknowledged and praised the PSC staff.
Gallagher and Lake said in a news released that they are anxious to work with staff in the coming years to serve all Montanans.
"The message from voters is unanimous: Affordable and reliable power for Montana families and businesses without preference to the kind or source of energy or special interest," Gallagher said.
The PSC generally regulates private, investor-owned natural gas, electric, telephone, private water and sewer companies doing business in Montana, and also oversees some limited transportation service providers.
(photo courtesy PSC)