Yellowstone County Generating Station

The Yellowstone County Generating Station will provide on‑demand resources to support the variability of wind and solar projects coming onto our system and help serve our customers during extended periods of peak demand.

A step toward net zero emissions

Rendering of the proposed Yellowstone County Generating Station

A step toward net zero emissions

We are proud of our diverse generation fleet of hydro, wind, natural gas and coal resources. Additional 24/7 on-demand energy sources are required in order to add more renewable, variable resources – wind and solar – to keep the grid stable as we transition to an even cleaner energy future.

We have committed to net zero emission by 2050, and the Yellowstone County Generating Station plays an import role in meeting that goal. Until longer-duration, carbon-free resources are available and cost effective, we are going to need natural gas fired generation to support the variability of wind and solar generation.

Facts about the Yellowstone County Generating Station:

  • The plant is designed to limit noise impact to neighboring landowners. The fans will be pointed toward the wastewater treatment plant and away from residential areas.
  • The use of the site for a generation facility is also consistent with surrounding industrial land use. The generating station is located near the CHS Inc. Laurel Refinery and the City of Laurel Public Works Department Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • The natural gas reciprocating internal combustion engine (RICE) units can ramp up quickly with multiple starts and stops daily, and can provide on-demand power, flexible capacity, baseload power and regulation services with reduced emissions.
  • NorthWestern Energy anticipates paying estimated annual property taxes of more than $4.25 million for the Yellowstone County Generating Station.
  • At peak construction of the plant 250-300 personnel will be employed. 
  • The Yellowstone County Generation Station will employee 10 full-time, skilled personnel when complete.

Yellowstone County Generating Station

Yellowstone Generating Station Image

Yellowstone County Generating Station

The Yellowstone County Generating Station will generate energy on-demand, which means we will be able to respond quickly to fluctuations in customer demand, and provide cost‑effective, reliable and environmentally responsible energy.

Watch the video to see a slideshow of project renderings. Check back for additional details as the project is developed.

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Yellowstone County Generating Station Benefits

$448.3 million

Gross Economic Output

Gross Economic Output is essentially equal to the revenue collected from businesses (including indirect taxes).
Gross Economic Output is essentially equal to the revenue collected from businesses (including indirect taxes).

$210.1 million

Gross County Output

Gross County Product is the total value added created by the production of goods and services in the local economy.
Gross County Product is the total value added created by the production of goods and services in the local economy.

$151.7 million

Labor & Total Employment

At peak construction, 250-300 personnel will be employed. When complete, the station will employee 10 full-time, skilled personnel.
At peak construction, 250-300 personnel will be employed. When complete, the station will employee 10 full-time, skilled personnel.

$49.2 million

Capital Income

Capital Income is the sum of income such as business profits, interest and rental income.
Capital Income is the sum of income such as business profits, interest and rental income.

Learn more about the benefits of the Yellowstone County Generating Station

Download the Economic Impact Report for the Yellowstone County Generating Station.

Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine (RICE)

A Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine

Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine (RICE)

Yellowstone County Generating Station's natural gas RICE units can ramp up quickly with multiple starts and stops daily, and can provide on-demand power, flexible capacity, baseload power and regulation services with reduced emissions.

Our Balanced and Diverse Energy Mix

A chart showing our resource mix

Our Balanced and Diverse Energy Mix

At NorthWestern Energy, our goal is to provide our customers reliable energy at the lowest long-term cost. We do this through a balanced mix of safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy. Our electric portfolio is built on the carbon-free hydro system, along with wind, coal, gas and solar.

Over time, the natural gas plants and other thermal generation on our system will be used less as new cleaner, cost‑effective resources are available.

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Yellowstone County Generating Station
The Yellowstone County Generating Station is located near the center of 33 acres east and south of NorthWestern Energy’s substation south of Laurel, which is east of the city’s wastewater treatment plant and the CHS Refinery.

The Yellowstone County Generating Station is expected to be available to provide critical always-available energy to meet the 2023-2024 winter needs of NorthWestern Energy’s Montana customers.

The Yellowstone County Generating Station is the lowest-cost resource selected through a competitive process administered by a third-party. This plant is part of a balanced mix of resources serving NorthWestern Energy’s Montana customers to provide affordable, reliable service as we transition to an even cleaner energy future. The request for proposals also selected a 100 megawatt hydro-based contract and a 50 megawatt battery storage project.

NorthWestern Energy relies on market purchases to meet 40-50% of peak energy demand for our Montana customers during extreme cold and hot temperatures that impact our customers today. Additional always-available resources dedicated to our Montana customers, such as the Yellowstone County Generating Station, are critical for reliable, affordable service.

Leading environmental organizations agree natural gas generation must be part of a balanced energy mix for the foreseeable future. No other resource meets both long-term climate goals and is capable of delivering multi-day, on-demand energy needed to keep service reliable during Montana’s extreme weather.

For more information about the project, please contact: