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Heidi Shaffer, Published May 01 2010

Public Service candidates debate issues

As energy development moves forward in North Dakota, the Public Service Commission’s role will be more important than ever, candidates Kevin Cramer and Brad Crabtree said Friday night.

Cramer and Crabtree debated for the first time during the North Dakota Newspaper Association convention.

The state faces new opportunities and challenges in coming years due to the oil boom out west as well as the increasing demand for renewable energy such as wind power, they both said.

Although they agreed on the role of the PSC heading into the future, the two candidates had differing views on energy efficiency.

Crabtree, the Democratic challenger, said increasing energy efficiency will help bring energy rates down. Cramer, the Republican incumbent who’s served on the commission since 2003, said the state is already efficient and boasts some of the lowest energy rates in the nation.

Crabtree also said he would support incentives for businesses to become more energy efficient, something Cramer argued is unnecessary.

“There are lots of solutions that are being hatched right now. We don’t need to create additional incentives,” Cramer said.

The two also sparred on the topic of politics within the Public Service Commission.

Cramer was asked about an earlier comment he made at the Republican state convention, calling Crabtree “the most left-wing, extreme environmentalist I know.”

Cramer said the comment was made as part of “rhetoric” at a political convention and didn’t see it as an insult to Crabtree.

Crabtree disagreed, saying he has never made a disparaging remark against Cramer.

Crabtree also said he doesn’t think politics should be part of the PSC’s regulatory role.

“I think the role of regulator is the closest thing we have to a judge in the executive branch,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511