MTPR

Jo Dee Black

Power line.
(PD)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A power outage affected at least 12,000 customers throughout Montana's capital Thursday, darkening traffic signals and public buildings and delaying a women's basketball game being attended by 19 busloads of elementary school students.

The outage that began shortly before noon and left many areas of the city of 32,000, along with neighboring East Helena, without power. According to the Independent Record, power was restored by 1:42 p.m. for most customers.

Montana’s largest utility company is reviewing its electric rates for the first time in 10 years and one provision has people worried that the new rates could hurt clean energy progress in the state.

A party-line vote late in a Montana House committee Friday is advancing the controversial bill that gives NorthWestern Energy incentives to buy a larger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

The National Weather Service is calling it a historic winter storm, bringing strong winds, heavy, wet and blowing snow and record cold temperatures to much of Montana starting tonight. As residents prepare for this early winter event so is a major utility.

A winter storm at this time of year means there are still leaves on the trees and tree damage is likely. And that means downed power lines.

NorthWestern Energy is asking the state Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve a new fee that certain customers will have to pay if they generate more energy than they use and feed it onto the electric grid, a process known as net-metering.
iStock

Advocates for homeowners generating electricity through rooftop solar panels protested a request by the state’s largest utility Thursday that could increase power bills for some of those customers.

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

On Wednesday, investigators concluded that electric power lines caused the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history. The Camp Fire burned more than 150,000 acres and killed 85 people. The electric utility that owns the power lines has filed for bankruptcy as a result of lawsuits related to the fire.

What is Montana’s biggest utility doing to mitigate fire risk? Montana Public Radio’s Eric Whitney talks to NorthWestern Energy Spokesperson Jo Dee Black about that.

NorthWestern Releases Plan To Expand Power Generation

Mar 5, 2019
NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn / Montana Public Radio

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — NorthWestern Energy released a plan Tuesday to more than double how much power it can generate for Montana customers during peak demand. But critics worry the company will rely too much on fossil fuels and not enough on renewable resources to complete the expansion.