Bob Glanzer Generating Station
Butte, Mont. – Jan. 17, 2024 – Energy demand was record high during the Arctic blast that blanketed Montana beginning late last week and continued through the long holiday weekend.
The electric-peak load on the grid that serves NorthWestern Energy’s Montana customers and many other Montana energy service providers exceeded the record set during the December 2022 Montana Arctic blast. In addition, NorthWestern Energy’s Montana natural gas system supplied a record quantity of natural gas to keep our customers warm.
NorthWestern Energy’s crews were staffed and equipped to respond to issues and outages during the Arctic blast. The system performed well under the prolonged extreme conditions.
“We appreciate the patience of those who were affected by some outages our system experienced and the numerous accolades offered for our crews working around the clock in extreme conditions to keep the lights and heat on,” said NorthWestern Energy President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Bird. “We have tremendous customers and are honored to provide you with reliable energy service.”
NorthWestern Energy’s Montana natural gas-fired generation facilities and the Montana Colstrip power plant, along with our hydro generation in Montana, supplied about half of the power for our customers during the extreme temperatures. Wind and solar generation could not produce much, if any, power during the extreme cold. Energy market purchases, most imported from out-of-state, were made to meet more than half of our Montana customers’ energy demand.
If the 175 megawatt Yellowstone County Generating Station, the natural-gas fired generation plant NorthWestern Energy is completing south of Laurel, was operating during this Arctic blast in Montana, more than $14 million in purchases from the energy market would have been avoided.
If NorthWestern Energy had Avista’s 222 megawatt share of the Colstrip Plant, which will be acquired on Jan. 1, 2026, during this Arctic blast in Montana, more than $18 million in purchases from the energy market would have been avoided.
Energy market purchases are flow-through costs to our customers.
“More than five days of consecutive extreme temperatures across Montana illustrates why additional 24/7, on-demand resources located in Montana and dedicated to serving our Montana customers are needed to reduce the risk to reliable service during extreme weather,” said Bird. “And in order to add even more variable wind and solar generation to the Montana grid, we need more of the same 24/7 generation to keep the grid stable.”
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NorthWestern Energy - Delivering a Bright Future
NorthWestern Energy provides essential energy infrastructure and valuable services that enrich lives and empower communities while serving as long-term partners to our customers and communities. We work to deliver safe, reliable, and innovative energy solutions that create value for customers, communities, employees, and investors. We do this by providing low-cost and reliable service performed by highly-adaptable and skilled employees. We provide electricity and / or natural gas to approximately 764,200 customers in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Yellowstone National Park. We have provided service in South Dakota and Nebraska since 1923 and in Montana since 2002.
Jo Dee Black