MTPR

NorthWestern Energy

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

A Montana District Judge says state utility regulators erroneously gave NorthWestern Energy a pass from a legal requirement to buy power from local small-scale renewable energy projects. 

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.

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

Environmental advocacy groups and the state’s largest utility company are arguing over how much customers should pay for power coming from the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip.

For the first time in 10 years Montana regulators are revisiting NorthWestern Energy’s ownership at Colstrip in a big picture look at how much the company earns and charges its customers.

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 Energy says its customers in Montana are being targeted by scam phone calls threatening to shut off utilities if they do not pay immediately.

Watercraft Inspection Station
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Legislature last week tweaked the way it raises money to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels in Montana waterways. The budget to do so remained about the same, but who’s paying for it changed a little.

'Capitol Talk': Legislature Wraps-Up; Campaign Season Heats Up

Apr 26, 2019

Tonight on Capitol Talk: Big bills that passed, and ones that didn't; the split in the Republican party — and its consequences; Gov. Bullock's pending big announcement; and Attorney General Tim Fox's fondness for chicken.

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