PPL Montana

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

A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down a rule meant to reduce haze from coal burned in Montana.

Environmentalists were critical that rule wasn’t strong enough and hope it will be revised and strengthened. Meanwhile, the coal industry is calling the ruling a victory.

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.

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.)

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.

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

Montana's coal-fired power plants emit as much carbon dioxide as Mongolia, a country of almost 3 million people. That’s according to a new study from Environment Montana’s Research and Policy Center.

It says PPL's Colstrip power plant emits the majority of CO2 in Montana, about 13 million of the state's more than 15 million metric tons.

The Montana Public Service Commission has approved Northwestern Energy's $870-million-dollar plan to buy eleven hydroelectric dams.

The dams included in the sale are on the Missouri, Madison, Clark Fork and Flathead rivers. They used to be owned by Montana Power Company, but PPL purchased them during the deregulation movement in the late 90's.

The commission voted 4 to 1 to approve the deal. Commissioner Travis Kavulla opposed the plan.

The typical Northwestern customer could see their electric rates rise by about $5-dollars a month to help pay for the sale.

Rainbow Dam
Dan Boyce

The chairman of the agency that regulates Montana's public utilities says he supports Northwestern Energy's $870-million-dollar proposal to purchase 11 hydroelectric dams from PPL Montana.

The PSC board is scheduled to cast a vote on the purchase tomorrow.

Public Service Commission Chairman Bill Gallagher says there's … risk... associated with an acquisition of this size, but adds the potential benefits are substantial.  

Gallagher says not only would the purchase stabilize rates but bring diversity to power production in Montana:

Northwestern Energy

The Montana Public Service Commission earlier this month held two weeks of hearings on Northwestern Energy's proposal to pay $870-million-dollars to purchase a dozen hydroelectric dams.

6/17/14: This week on "Home Ground Radio:" If second chances are rare, it's even rarer to have a chance to buy back something valuable that you sold. Montana's electricity-generating dams are for sale.  Should we buy them back? NorthWestern Energy's Bob Rowe and John Hines think so. 

Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes

$18.3 million dollars - that's the price an arbitration panel has set for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes to buy Kerr Dam near Polson from PPL Montana. It's a price close to what the tribes think is fair, and well below what PPL was asking.
    The panel's decision paves the way for the Salish and Kootenai to become the first tribe in the country to own a major hydroelectric facility. Brian Lipscomb is CEO of Energy Keepers - the tribal corporation involved in the dam negotiation and eventual operation.