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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Northwestern Energy backs out of electric vehicle charging deal 

NorthWestern Energy building in Butte, Montana.
Nora Saks
NorthWestern Energy building in Butte, Montana.
Corrected: July 2, 2024 at 7:46 PM MDT
A previous version of this article inaccurately reported the grant amount the state awarded NorthWestern Energy to build EV charging stations.

Northwestern Energy recently withdrew from a grant agreement with Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality to build nine high speed electric vehicle chargers across the state.

Neal Ullman with DEQ’S energy division still has the money and is working on next steps.

“We still have those funds that were awarded, previously to Northwestern Energy. And so we're evaluating, how to, how to implement those funds and where, where to take them next,” said Ullman

Northwestern Energy did not agree to MTPR’s requests for an interview and gave a written statement saying it’s better suited to play a supporting role in the adoption of electric vehicle charging stations.

“Overall, NorthWestern Energy is better suited to play a supporting role in the adoption of electric vehicle charging stations given the need for considerations beyond the typical utility operational scope, which led to the decision to withdraw from the grant agreement,” said Northwestern spokesperson Jo Dee Black.

This is the second EV charging station grant to be canceled this year after gas station chain Town Pump also backed away from a plan. Ullman says it’s unclear when any of these charging stations could get built.

This grant funding comes from a legal settlement with Volkswagen. The state has used about two thirds of that settlement so far, to build six fast EV chargers, and fund electric school buses, street sweepers and airport equipment. The state is required to spend 80% of the funds by October 2027.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.

ellis.juhlin@mso.umt.edu
406-272-2568
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