Montana Public Radio

Montana Public Service Commission

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.

A financial-compliance audit of the Montana Public Service Commission raises concerns about potential waste of state resources, missing documentation and the integrity and competence of certain management personnel.

The Session Week 16: Separation Of Powers And The Future Of Colstrip

Apr 19, 2021

As of mid-day Friday, 1,297 bills have been introduced and at least 197 have been signed into law. This week we’re watching a mounting dispute over separation of powers between the Legislature and the Montana Supreme Court. We’re also watching debate on a bill that would incentivize the state’s largest utility to buy more of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant.

As the Montana House held its first hearing on a bill that could allow NorthWestern Energy to pass costs on to its customers for the utility’s coal-fired power investments, opponents of the idea held protests in multiple cities.

Lawmakers continue to debate the cost of the proposal.

Around 50 people gathered in a protest organized in part by climate change advocacy group 350Montana in front of a NorthWestern Energy office building in Missoula.

Montana energy regulators Tuesday set contract terms for what NorthWestern Energy pays small generation facilities, like wind and solar, for the energy they produce.

Regulators on the Montana Public Service Commission lengthened potential contracts from a maximum 15 years to 20 years flat.

A Montana utility regulator has filed a more than $2 million claim against the Public Service Commission for negligence and harm he says was directed towards him.

Bozeman Commissioner Roger Koopman filed the notice with the Department of Administration on behalf of himself and his family, citing targeted, malicious behavior by the PSC and several of its elected officials and state employees.

Water faucet.
(PD)

Montana regulators on Tuesday found a private water utility shut off water service without justification to residents of a Helena subdivision this summer.

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a $1,000 fine and will further investigate North Star Development’s emergency interruption of service in August that affected some of the subdivision’s roughly 280 households.

Windmills in a grassy field
iStock

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — For the third time this year, a court has ruled that Montana's Public Service Commission has ignored energy law in setting prices for a wind or solar farm.

District Judge Kathy Seeley ruled the commission underpaid Caithness Beaver Creek for electricity it was scheduled to sell to the state’s largest monopoly utility NorthWestern Energy as part of a proposed $500 million wind and battery storage project, the Billings Gazette reported Wednesday.

Three of five seats are up for grabs on the body that regulates electric utilities in Montana. Open races will take place for seats representing the western and southwestern regions, while an incumbent is running for the southeast Montana seat.

Yellowstone Public Radio New’s Kayla Desroches spoke with politics and agriculture reporter Tom Lutey from the Billings Gazette about what the outcome of the November election could mean for the Public Service Commission and the state’s energy portfolio.

Montana state regulators will consider NorthWestern Energy’s proposed purchase in a greater share of the Colstrip coal fired power plant in mid December.

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) set a hearing date of Dec. 14 at its meeting on Aug. 25.

NorthWestern filed a motion on Aug. 14 to expedite the first hearing on its proposed 92-MGW acquisition in Colstrip unit 4 to November. Intervenors said that’s not enough time for discovery.

PSC staff’s suggested mid December hearing is before newly elected commissioners take their seats.

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