Montana Public Radio

NorthWestern Energy

Groups campaigning for the expansion of renewable energy sources rallied nearly a hundred supporters in front of NorthWestern Energy headquarters in Butte, Oct. 10, 2016.
Corin Cates-Carney

NorthWestern Energy is asking Montana lawmakers to back a bill that would allow them to bypass some oversight by state regulators. 

The so-called Montana Energy Security Act of 2019 passed out of the Senate late last week.

It's been a busy week at the Montana Legislature. Medicaid expansion and a bill to help NorthWestern Energy acquire more coal are still alive; A bill to fund preschool education is killed; And a bill to help find missing and murdered Native American women is passed, then killed, then revived. Learn more now on Capitol Talk with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

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.

Tonight on Capitol Talk: The state's utility regulators endorse a bill that appears to weaken the their own regulatory oversight. The cost of Medicaid expansion — and a new revenue estimate — complicate the state budget outlook. The president of the Senate wants to be the top election official. And the mayor of Helena wants to run for governor or Congress, but he's not ready to say if he'll run as a Democrat or Republican.

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.

Tonight on Capitol Talk: State lawmakers are buckling-down on a number of issues, including increased oversight of non-profit schools for troubled teens; what infrastructure projects to support or reject; what to cut or support in the health department; and whether ratepayers should bear the burden of keeping Colstrip's coal plant going.

Learn more now on Capitol Talk.

Colstrip power plant, Colstrip Montana.
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

A plan to allow the state’s largest electric utility to buy a bigger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip is taking a new form. The so-called Montana Energy Security Act of 2019 was introduced Wednesday in the state Legislature.

Hours after senators voted to table a prior proposal to allow NorthWestern Energy to buy more of Colstrip and pass along certain costs to their customers for up to 30 years, a similar idea landed in the hopper.

NorthWestern Releases Plan To Expand Power Generation

Mar 5, 2019
NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn / Montana Public Radio

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — NorthWestern Energy released a plan Tuesday to more than double how much power it can generate for Montana customers during peak demand. But critics worry the company will rely too much on fossil fuels and not enough on renewable resources to complete the expansion.

Colstrip power plant.
John Adams / Montana Free Press

HELENA — A bill would allow NorthWestern Energy to take control of the Colstrip power plant with scaled-back regulatory oversight, and it’s moving through the Legislature at lightning speed.

NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn / Montana Public Radio

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — NorthWestern Energy customers will soon be seeing a credit on their bills due to the utility's savings under the federal tax cut enacted last December.

The Montana Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved an agreement reached between NorthWestern and consumer groups that calls for a total one-time credit of $20.5 million.

NorthWestern estimates average customers will receive a credit of $24 on their power bills and $3.50 on their natural gas bills within the next 30 days.

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