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Butte business leaders recruited for battle by NorthWestern Energy - "There's no guarantee of these jobs staying in Butte,"

July 18, 2005View for printing

NorthWestern Energy is asking local business leaders to support the company against a group of five Montana cities, which includes Butte, seeking to buy it out.

Utility rates and local jobs are at risk if the group, Montana Public Power Inc., buys NorthWestern, Rick Edwards, the company's economic development director, told the Butte Local Development Corp.'s board of directors Thursday.

"What we're trying to do is get some of the movers and shakers ... to sign a resolution" opposing Montana Public Power's plan to buy the company, said Edwards, who also sits on the BLDC board.

Montana Public Power includes the cities of Butte, Missoula, Bozeman, Great Falls and Helena. Chief Executive Paul Babb could not be reached for comment Thursday.

This month, Montana Public Power offered nearly $2 billion for NorthWestern's natural gas transmission and distribution, including the assumption of $825 million in debt.

By Erin Nicholes of The Montana Standard

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