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small brandlElectricity Generation

This chart shows in near real time where your energy is coming from, with the top line showing the forecast of how much electricity we need to generate to meet demand.

Hourly electrical generation by source (Montana)

This chart is data between 7/26/2021 and 8/2/2021

* These are estimated loads and are subject to revision

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. Wind and solar are variable energy resources, meaning they don’t produce power if the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Coal and natural gas, or thermals, are reliable and resilient energy sources that can start up quickly whenever we need them. This mix of renewable and traditional resources help us keep energy bills as affordable and predictable as possible.


  • Owned generation resources supplied approximately 69% of our retail load requirements in 2019.
  • Our remaining customer load requirements are met with market purchases from third parties and include resources from wind generation, gas-fired generation and qualifying facilities.
  • 61% of our generation came from carbon-free sources (wind, hydro and solar) in 2019. ( Nationwide, the total electric power industry is nearly 40% carbon free. For more information, view our Clean Energy page.)
  • We own 10 hydroelectric generating facilities in Montana, which supplied 42% of our electric generation in 2019.
  • Our Dave Gates Generating Station at Mill Creek, a 150 MW natural gas fired facility, primarily provides regulation service for the transmission system. 

 South Dakota

  • Our South Dakota electric supply load requirements are primarily provided by three jointly owned coal-fired generating plants.     
  • We also own several peaking/standby generating units located throughout our service territory including a 52 MW unit in Aberdeen, S.D. that was placed into service in 2014.
  • We purchased and placed into service in 2015 the 80 MW Beethoven Wind Project located near Tripp, S.D.
  • We use market purchases and peaking generation to provide peak supply in excess of our base-load capacity.
  • In 2019, 57% of the electricity utilized in South Dakota came from coal and 40% from owned and contracted wind projects. 
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