In recent days PPL Montana has received some unjust cheap shots in the news. PPL Montana is a for-profit corporation as are most main street businesses, and is owned in part by Montanans. PPL Montana’s function is to make money. That is what their shareholders expect and demand. PPL Montana does not own any power distribution lines, nor do they sell power to end consumers. They produce then sell electricity in a highly competitive market to companies that will, in turn, deliver and sell to you.
But this letter is not about PPL Montana profits, coal generation plants or even about the possible sale of their hydroelectric facilities. It is about how PPL Montana and their employees are giving back to our communities.
I recently finished the first year of a two year appointment to PPL Montana Community Fund Board. This mix of PPL Montana employees and non-employees meets twice a year to review and distribute funds PPL has ear-marked for grants to non-profit organizations, schools and school districts with a focus on education, environment and economic development. Since this fund was established, $1.4 million in grants has been awarded to nearly 200 organizations across Montana. This past year, in the south central area of Montana we have awarded grants to Musselshell School Community Center to help preserve a focal point of the area, Special K Ranch of Columbus to build a hydroponic garden, Billings Education Foundation to provide weekend backpack meals for school children and Yellowstone CASA to pay for training of needed volunteers that serve as court advocates for abused and neglected children. Grants to preserve the Colstrip History and Art Center and rebuild the Howard Community Club roof. Funds in Hysham for the Yucca Museum and the Evelyn Cameron Heritage Center in Terry. In Lewistown, PPL has provided funds to the Snowy Mountain Industries in support their goals, and to the Lewistown Boys and Girls Club for needed renovations to their building.
In addition to local contributions and sponsorships, Community Fund grants are just one part of PPL Montana’s community involvement. PPL Montana provides over 500 good paying jobs statewide and pays more than $26 million per year in state and local taxes and fees. So the next time someone starts talking about what PPL Montana is taking out of Montana, let’s take a moment and look at what PPL Montana is giving back to Montana.