Montana Public Radio

NorthWestern Energy

Cryptocurrency
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A U.S. judge has appointed a receiver to oversee a Bitcoin plant in Montana after the majority owner was indicted on federal charges alleging he was running a Ponzi scheme involving cryptocurrency investments.

Hearing sessions across Montana over the last month have given ratepayers of the state’s largest electric utility the chance to sound off on the company’s 20-year-plan for sourcing energy. While many people have lashed out against the fossil fuel heavy plan, a minority of supporters in Billings and Colstrip last week stepped up.

Montana Coal Power Plant Closing Two Units Built In 1970s

Jan 3, 2020
Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — One of the largest coal-fired power plants in the western U.S. will close two of its four units in coming days as the Montana facility edges toward an eventual total shutdown.

What NorthWestern Energy's Supply Strategy Could Mean For Customers

Dec 19, 2019

This story was originally published by the Montana Free Press on Dec. 19, 2019.

At a cramped meeting before the Montana Public Service Commission in Helena Dec. 9, a crowd of climate activists radiated suspicion as a bearded economist flipped through a slide deck.

Montana’s largest electricity provider on Tuesday announced it plans to buy a larger share of the Colstrip power plant a day after protesters rallied the company to increase its renewable energy portfolio.

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

Montana utility regulators say NorthWestern Energy must spend at least $3.2 million a year on removing trees near power lines. Regulators are worried that power company equipment could spark flames similar to the devastating wildfire in California last year that killed more than 80 people and destroyed the town of Paradise.


NorthWestern Energy is asking state utility regulators to sign off on the company’s request to increase their customers’ electric bills by $23.8 million for one year. This surcharge is in addition to a $6.5 million rate increase commissioners approved late last month.


State utility regulators are nearing the end of a massive review of what Northwestern Energy charges its customers and what the company makes in profit. Several regulators this week are arguing over how the public was notified that they’ll likely see an increase in their electric bills.

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Public Service Commission has approved a $6.5 million rate increase for NorthWestern Energy customers, less than 20 percent of the increase the utility initially sought.

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.

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