Montana Public Radio

David Hoffman

A bill before the Montana legislature would repeal a law that requires a majority of voters to approve proposed nuclear power facilities.

Representative Derek Skees, a Republican from Kalispell, introduced House Bill 273 and told a House committee Monday that the Legislature should decide whether to grant a nuclear facility approval.

Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

A rewritten Republican plan aimed at protecting the future of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip is moving forward. But concerns remain about its potential impact on Montanans’ electric bills.

When the so-called Montana Energy Security Act of 2019 was first introduced it drew comparisons to the deregulation of the Montana Power Company in the late 1990s, which skyrocketed electric bills across the state.

Colstrip power plant.
John Adams / Montana Free Press

HELENA — A bill would allow NorthWestern Energy to take control of the Colstrip power plant with scaled-back regulatory oversight, and it’s moving through the Legislature at lightning speed.

Solar panels.
(PD)

Legislation introduced Wednesday in the Montana House would require officials to study how renewable energy generators, like solar panels, impact the utility bills of the people who don’t have them.

Solar panels can help trim down the utility bill of homeowners, but some say it shifts that cost onto other utility consumers who don’t have personal energy generators on their home. There’s no consensus on that.

Colstrip power plant, Colstrip Montana.
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down a rule meant to reduce haze from coal burned in Montana.

Environmentalists were critical that rule wasn’t strong enough and hope it will be revised and strengthened. Meanwhile, the coal industry is calling the ruling a victory.

Montana Capitol
Eric Whitney

The start of the 2015 Legislative session is still seven weeks away, but a group of Democratic lawmakers, scientists, and activists is already working to frame a possible legislative debate on climate change. 

Among those who spoke at a climate change-focused news conference on Thursday was Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. He says even without the EPA pressuring the state to cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent in 15 years, slowing or reversing climate change would still be a priority, to save the state’s hunting and fishing industry.

Cheri Trusler

A meeting to talk about reducing Montana’s carbon dioxide emissions drew more than 150 people to a Missoula hotel last night.

Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality invited people to hear about and comment on their “white paper,” which shows five different strategies for the state to reduce Co2 emissions to meet a new federal target. That target for Montana is to reduce Co2 emissions by 21 percent by the year 2030.

Colstrip power plant, Colstrip Montana.
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

Montana's coal-fired power plants emit as much carbon dioxide as Mongolia, a country of almost 3 million people. That’s according to a new study from Environment Montana’s Research and Policy Center.

It says PPL's Colstrip power plant emits the majority of CO2 in Montana, about 13 million of the state's more than 15 million metric tons.

Dan Boyce

PPL Montana is now operating a completely renovated Rainbow Dam, just a few miles northeast of Great Falls.

The $230 million project marks the biggest investment in energy generation in the state since the Colstrip coal-fired power plant was built about 30 years ago.

PPL Montana Director of External Affairs David Hoffman said the new power house generates almost twice as much electricity as the old one. It’s enough to power about 45-thousand homes.

Construction on this renovation started back in 2009 and went fully online this past April.