Montana Public Radio

Mary McNally

Lawmakers Discuss Policy Violations By Utility Regulators

Jun 8, 2021

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The two newest members of the Montana Public Service Commission told a legislative committee Monday they've spent their first five months on the job working to improve the operation, performance and culture of the office that regulates monopoly utilities.

NorthWestern Energy builidng in Butte, MT.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Senate has approved a bill that could pass costs for the Colstrip coal-fired power plant onto NorthWestern Energy customers if the utility buys an added share in the plant.

Senate Bill 379, intended to continue the operating life of the Colstrip power plant, passed on the 27 to 21 vote and now heads to the House for debate.

Lawmakers Pose Tough Questions To Gianforte’s Top DPHHS Nominee

Feb 12, 2021
Eliza Wiley / Montana Free Press

Gov. Greg Gianforte’s pick to lead the Department of Public Health and Human Services, the state’s largest department, faced robust questioning in a confirmation hearing this week.

Montana lawmakers have set the first rough outline for state health department spending at about a billion dollars less than the agency’s current budget. A party line vote Friday set the initial base spending for budget negotiations. 

NorthWestern Energy building in Butte, Montana.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

State utility regulators have agreed with NorthWestern Energy’s request to block details on its new coal supply contract from becoming public — at least for the moment. This comes as Montana’s biggest utility moves to buy a larger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip. 

NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn / Montana Public Radio

A controversial bill to change the state’s regulation of NorthWestern Energy in a potential deal at Colstrip cleared a critical vote Wednesday in the Senate. 

The proposal encourages the state’s largest monopoly utility to increase its operating share of energy production at one of the coal-fired power plant's four units.

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.

Senate Bill 84 Seeks To Revise Claims History For Homeowners Insurance

Jan 23, 2015
Sen. Mary McNally (D) - Billings.
Courtesy Montana Legislature

Last spring a hailstorm pounded Billings leaving thousands of homeowners filing claims for new roofs, siding, windows, and other property damage. Later several filed complaints with the state Insurance Commissioner that their insurance company dropped their coverage.