Montana Public Radio

Brad Johnson

A screen capture from a NorthWestern Energy video shows a powerline corridor that must be cleared of hazard trees to help prevent wildfires.
Screen capture from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kH464TvlSo

Montana utility regulators say NorthWestern Energy must spend at least $3.2 million a year on removing trees near power lines. Regulators are worried that power company equipment could spark flames similar to the devastating wildfire in California last year that killed more than 80 people and destroyed the town of Paradise.


State utility regulators are nearing the end of a massive review of what Northwestern Energy charges its customers and what the company makes in profit. Several regulators this week are arguing over how the public was notified that they’ll likely see an increase in their electric bills.

Montana Secretary of State Office
William Marcus

A fourth Republican is entering Montana’s primary race for Secretary of State.

Bowen Greenwood, current clerk of the Montana Supreme Court, announced Tuesday he’s joining the 2020 race for the job of top election official.

A Heli-Feller, a piece of equipment designed to cut and hold the tops off trees, allows helicopters to assist ground crews clearing the areas around power lines.
Rachel Cramer / Yellowstone Public Radio

As fire season starts to heat up in Montana, the threat of electrical power lines igniting dry forests is raising concerns. Power lines started the deadliest and most expensive fire in California history last November, the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

The threat of vegetation falling on Montana power lines has increased in recent years due to the rising number of beetle-killed trees.

The Public Service Commission announced today that Montana will use the 406 area code through at least 2031.
Stock photo

Montana is one of only twelve states with a single area code.

The Public Service Commission announced today Montana will stay in that exclusive club through at least 2031.

Jeff Mangan is Montana's commissioner of political practices.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

The chair of Montana’s utility regulators violated state ethics during the 2016 election, according to a decision released today by Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

It took the Montana Public Service Commission less than 10 minutes Monday to approve a $1.1 million rate reduction for Missoula’s Mountain Water Company.

NorthWestern Energy Ordered To Refund Montana Customers $8.2M

Mar 29, 2016
NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn / Montana Public Radio

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana regulators on Tuesday ordered NorthWestern Energy to refund customers $8.24 million that the state's largest power company charged when it had to buy electricity on the open market following a 2013 outage of the Colstrip coal plant.

Tonight on "Campaign Beat" we talk about the AG race and the lack of a Democratic challenger;  dueling narratives on the economy between Bullock and Gianforte; Brad Johnson's epiphany that he can't win the governor's race with the time and money required; and the Republican party chairman's anger at the Billings Gazette for running an editorial that blames something besides President Obama for coal's decline.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

Montana’s Public Service Commission is suing the private company that supplies Missoula’s drinking water. The Commission says utilities can’t be sold without the regulatory authority’s approval.

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