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Long-awaited report short on shocks

By Richard Ecke

Great Falls Tribune

A long-awaited report showed bankrupt Southern Montana Electric spent money heavily at times and made mistakes, but the report failed to reveal any shocking information or evidence that graft or corruption brought the Billings-based co-op down.

The city of Great Falls on Wednesday released the document after it was sent to parties in the bankruptcy case by the umbrella cooperative’s trustee, Lee A. Freeman of Livingston. Federal Bankruptcy Judge Ralph B. Kirscher of Montana ruled this week Freeman must release the report.

Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative borrowed $85 million in 2010 from Prudential Financial and Modern Woodmen of America to build a natural gas-fired power plant east of Great Falls. The city of Great Falls is a former member of Southern Montana.

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