Montana Public Radio

NorthWestern Energy

Thermostat. File photo.
koinseb / iStock

Natural gas price spikes are translating into unusually high cold-weather heating bills for many Americans.

Montana customers of NorthWestern Energy, however, are an exception and will probably see stable natural gas prices this winter.

NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn / Montana Public Radio

A Montana environmental group is suing the state’s largest utility company and its public regulators. It says they violated a law aimed at developing small renewable energy projects.

The Montana Environmental Information Center claims Montana’s Public Service Commission illegally gave NorthWestern Energy a pass on buying enough energy from what are known as Community Renewable Energy Projects, or CREPs. 

Northwestern Energy

Ready or not, a massive winter storm is bearing down on Montana.


NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Public Service Commission wants the state’s regulated utilities to calculate the big reductions in taxes each company expects to pay starting next year. 

Solar panels.
(PD)

Environmental groups and renewable energy companies are suing Montana regulators in an attempt to strike down new rules that limit how they can sell solar energy.

Renewable energy advocates say a recent order from the Public Service Commission violates state and federal law and unfairly targets their industry, a notion that state regulators reject.

Federal law requires utility companies like NorthWestern to buy power from small renewable energy projects at the price it would cost the utility company to generate it or buy it from somewhere else.
Flickr user jabzoog

A company proposing a new wind farm near Martinsdale has agreed to sell electricity to NorthWestern Energy after state regulators lowered the price NorthWestern would have to pay.

Montana’s Public Service Commission is holding a public listening session in Havre Monday, October 30.

The regulatory body says it wants to identify opportunities for NorthWestern Energy to improve its incident response and communications with customers in the wake of widespread power outages across the Hi-Line earlier this month.

NorthWestern Energy

Power is now restored to nearly all NorthWestern Energy customers along the Hi-Line. Some residents went without electricity for over a week after a major snowstorm October 2nd and 3rd basically destroyed part of the area’s electrical infrastructure.

Hydroelectric dams like the Salish Ksanka Qlispe Dam in Polson worry invasive mussels could clog up energy production.
Corin Cates-Carney

Hydropower is a big resource in Montana. It accounted for almost a third of the state’s net electricity generation in 2015. Floods and droughts are always on dam managers’ minds, but lately, energy producers are also worried about tiny, non-native mollusks that could wreak havoc on Montana’s hydropower facilities.


Solar panels. Stock photo.
(PD)

Montana’s largest utility provider announced Wednesday it is looking for small-scale renewable energy projects that it’s required by law to buy. But utilities and their regulators in Montana say that requirement is outdated, and that the law should be repealed.

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