MTPR

NorthWestern Energy

The storm destroyed some outbuildings on 66 Ranch outside of Havre
Courtesy Rylee Strauser

Thousands of Montanans had a 4th of July they won’t soon forget. A storm packing powerful winds, intense rain and large hail disrupted life  across the state’s northern tier last weekend. Some think tornadoes touched down, but meteorologists aren’t yet willing to go that far.

A roughly 300-mile stretch of northern Montana is still cleaning up after a powerful storm swept across the region this weekend.

Rainbow Dam
Dan Boyce

Northwestern Energy predicts electricity bills for its residential customers will decrease by $3.10 per month starting in July.

Northwestern spokesman Butch Larcombe says a couple of different factors are at play.

Flathead Lake. Flathead County Commissioners are considering a proposal to regulate short-term housing rentals outside of incorporated towns.
William Neuheisel (CC-BY-2)

Flathead Lake is a good two feet below full pool following this particularly dry spring in northwest Montana. Northwestern Energy, which manages Kerr Dam, has notified tribal and federal agencies that water levels are low which could affect outflows this summer. Kerr produces power, regulates the lake's water levels and several reservoirs.

Bill Gallagher, former Montana Public Service Commission Chairman
Montana Public Service Commission

The chairman of the Montana Public Service Commission remembers his predecessor, Bill Gallagher, as a man of courage and grace.

Gallagher died of pancreatic cancer late last week.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

On this episode of "Capitol Talk": The House passed a budget on a party-line vote after shutting down every Democratic amendment. "It was very acrimonious and quite a contrast from two years ago when the budget bill passed the House by a 100 to nothing margin," Chuck Johnson says.

These Bills Died In The First Half Of The Montana Legislature's Session

Mar 3, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Nearly 350 bill proposals have died in the Montana Legislature’s first half. Because of that, here’s some of what will stay the same in the state.

The minimum wage won’t increase for a while, speed limits will stay at 75, physicians can still aid terminal patients in dying, and the state's death penalty stands. People can still be thrown out of their house or fired for their gender identity or sexual expression.

The federal government will still be able to sell public lands in Montana. Brewers still have to jump through legal hoops to get a liquor license for a bar.

Butte's American Legion baseball teams are now $1 million closer to a brand new facility at Copper Mountain Park.

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Resources contributed a total of $1 million to bring a proposed $2 million American Legion baseball facility to Butte.

Northwestern Energy will chip-in $50,000; half of that in cash, with the rest in the form of an in-kind labor donation to install lighting.

Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Matt Vincent predicts lots of people will attend night games.

Hearing room at the Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

State lawmakers are being asked to increase the amount of power that customers can sell to their electric utility from their own solar or wind generators

It’s called net metering, and it’s a boon for alternative energy installers, or a threat to local power companies, depending on whom you ask.

In Montana, electric customers with their own solar panels or wind turbines can sell up to fifty kilowatts back to their power company. Brad van Wert runs an alternative-energy business in Gallatin, and supports raising that cap.

Bill Gallagher, former Montana Public Service Commission Chairman
Montana Public Service Commission

Bill Gallagher had a key vote in the MT Public Service Commission's decision to approve NorthWestern Energy's proposal to buy 11 of Montana's hydroelectric dams from PPL Montana. How did he make his decision?

(Broadcast: "Home Ground Radio," 12/21/14. Listen weekly on the radio, Sundays at  11:10 a.m., or via podcast.)

Montana Capitol
Eric Whitney

The start of the 2015 Legislative session is still seven weeks away, but a group of Democratic lawmakers, scientists, and activists is already working to frame a possible legislative debate on climate change. 

Among those who spoke at a climate change-focused news conference on Thursday was Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. He says even without the EPA pressuring the state to cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent in 15 years, slowing or reversing climate change would still be a priority, to save the state’s hunting and fishing industry.

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