MTPR

Butch Larcombe

A 2005 state law requires Montana utilities to buy a total of 75 megawatts of energy from small-scale, locally owned producers of renewable electricity from wind, solar, and hydro sources.
(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 But utilities and their regulators in Montana say that requirement is outdated, and that the law should be repealed.

Montana's bitterly cold winter is hitting Northwestern Energy customers in the pocketbook.

Spokesman Butch Larcombe says its entire service territory is much colder than normal. Of course that means customers are using a lot more natural gas or electricity to stay warm:

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

  About 100 advocates for renewable energy walked through uptown Butte earlier this week, chanting and thrusting signs in the air. Some protesters kept time on wooden blocks, tambourines and drums, as they walked toward the state headquarters of Montana’s largest utility company, NorthWestern Energy.

The groups 350 Missoula, the Montana Environmental Information Center and Northern Plains Resource Council protested NorthWestern Energy's plan for future electricity supply in front of the utility company's state headquarters in Butte Oct. 10, 2016..
Corin Cates-Carney

Groups campaigning for the expansion of renewable energy sources rallied nearly a hundred supporters in Butte today.

In March of this year NorthWestern Energy released a plan outlining the future of the utility’s electricity supply. Today, the groups 350 Missoula, the Montana Environmental Information Center and Northern Plains Resource Council protested the plan in front of the utility company's state headquarters in Butte.

NorthWestern Energy is warning customers in the Bitterroot Valley of scam calls requesting immediate payment on overdue bills. 

NorthWestern Energy Ordered To Refund Montana Customers $8.2M

Mar 29, 2016
NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana regulators on Tuesday ordered NorthWestern Energy to refund customers $8.24 million that the state's largest power company charged when it had to buy electricity on the open market following a 2013 outage of the Colstrip coal plant.

NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn

Northwestern Energy says its remaining Missoula customers without power should be back in service by late tonight. That includes residents of the city's South Hills, Linda Vista and Miller Creek neighborhoods. Thousands of residents have been without power since a destructive and powerful thunderstorm toppled trees and powerlines on Monday night.

Northwestern Energy has restored power to thousands  more Missoulians in the past 24 hours, but thousands more are still without electricity after Monday’s powerful storm.

Thunderstorms toppled power lines in the Linda Vista area of Missoula, MT.
Courtesy Danny Dauterive

Western Montana may get another dose of nasty weather this evening.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Noble says conditions very similar to those that created powerful and destructive storms yesterday could soon start moving into western Montana.

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.

Dan Boyce

The price of solar panels continues to drop, making them a more reasonable option for households.

Montanans are taking notice; solar adoption rates have been rising in the last five years.

A solar project just switched on in January at Helena’s River Rock Residences, a low-income senior housing complex operated by the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Development Corporation.