Montana Public Radio

NorthWestern Energy

Daines' Forest Management Bill Hear In Subcommittee

Sep 21, 2020

Montana Senator Steve Daines on Sept. 16 stumped for legislation he helped draft, saying more forest management would protect communities from wildfires.

Republican Daines presented his Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 to the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining.

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.

The Montana Supreme Court Monday, Aug. 24 sided with solar power developers who accused regulators and the state’s largest utility of trying to block renewable energy projects.

Justices upheld a lower court ruling that said state regulators knew their actions would hurt solar development when they suspended a federal law requiring companies to buy power from alternative energy sources.

Editor’s Note 08/20/20: The original version of this story misattributed the included quote and it has since been corrected.

Montana electric utility regulators are investigating the effect of the novel coronavirus on a rate structuring pilot program from the state’s largest utility.

This week, the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) ordered NorthWestern Energy to submit a report factoring in financial impacts from the novel coronavirus on the utility’s decoupling program.

Emergency funds and protections against electricity shut offs are set to expire for many Montanans at the end of the month. The number of people facing shut offs may be small now but demand for aid is growing with winter heating bills on the horizon.

Amy Ensign says she’s been fielding a lot of calls recently.

“Hi, so you were calling about some energy assistance," Ensign says.

In the latest step of a long pre approval process, the commission that regulates electric utilities in Montana wants to know how big a share NorthWestern Energy intends to purchase in the Colstrip coal fired power plant.

 

State regulators Wednesday will start considering whether Montana’s largest electric utility should be able to pass costs on to customers for money it lost in the summer of 2018.

Editor's Note April 21, 2020: PSC counsel Zack Rogala's name was mispelled in a previous version of this article and has since been corrected.

A Montana regulatory body on Apr. 14 fell victim to an instance of teleconference hijacking, also called “zoombombing,” which interrupted public comment and delayed commissioners’ decision making.

The Montana Public Service Commission turned to remote teleconferencing in late March to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus. The commission has been using the popular Zoom platform to hold public meetings.

 

Montana’s largest electric utility says another company is hedging in on its plan to purchase a greater share of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant. 

Courtesy of Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Energy Keepers Inc., owned by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, has signed a contract to sell hydroelectric power to a Washington state utility.

Pages