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Plan For Natural Gas Fired Plant In South Central Montana Moves Forward

Nora Saks
Montana Public Radio

Montana electric utility regulators are starting the approval process for a natural gas-fired plant in south-central Montana.

Regulators on the Montana Public Service Commission okayed NorthWestern Energy’s application for advance project approval Monday. The utility is seeking the go-ahead to acquire and build a 175-megawatt natural gas-fired plant in Laurel.

“Y’know we’re really looking at a pretty mundane procedural question here whether or not NorthWestern checked all the boxes necessary for us to accept the application,” says Montana Public Service Commission Vice chairman Brad Johnson.

NorthWestern’s application estimates the Laurel Generating Station along with 50-megawatts of newly acquired battery storage in Yellowstone County would increase the average residential customer’s monthly bill by roughly 6 dollars and 60 cents

NorthWestern estimates it’s short 555 megawatts when it comes to meeting peak customer electricity demand. The utility points to the development of fossil fuels like natural gas as the most reliable way to meet the shortfall.

The Montana Public Service Commission has roughly 270 days to approve or deny the projects.

Copyright 2021 Yellowstone Public Radio. To see more, visit Yellowstone Public Radio.

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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