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NorthWestern Energy's 2019 draft Montana electric supply plan open for public comment

Mar 05, 2019

Butte, Mont. –– NorthWestern Energy released the draft 2019 Montana Electricity Supply Resource Procurement Plan for a 60-day public comment period. The plan will be filed with the Montana Public Service Commission after the public comment period ends.

Montana’s energy landscape is evolving, changing from a state that produces more electricity than our citizens can use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to a state where there is a growing risk there won’t be enough electricity to serve our citizens at critical times of peak demand. A similar situation is occurring throughout the Pacific Northwest – a key source for NorthWestern’s market purchases.

“Reductions in regional and in-state thermal generation are limiting the ability of Montana to import and export energy,” said John Bushnell, manager energy supply and regulatory for NorthWestern Energy. “To just assume the market will always be able to provide customers with sufficient electricity at affordable prices is a reckless approach that could have severe reliability and cost consequences.  As an example of this risk, the market blew up on March 1, 2019 to nearly $1,000 per MWh.”

Currently, NorthWestern Energy’s peak requirement for electric energy in Montana is about 1,400 megawatts and we have to buy 645 megawatts on the market to meet that peak demand. We forecast that by 2025, our electric energy portfolio will be 725 megawatts of electricity short to meet peak demand. The draft plan outlines how our Montana customers’ energy needs will be met with reliable energy at the lowest cost.

In order to have adequate energy supplies to meet peak load requirement by 2025, NorthWestern Energy will solicit competitive proposals from a variety of resources and use a staged approach, adding 200 megawatts of capacity per year from 2022 to 2025.

NorthWestern Energy, through independent evaluators, will consider all resources that can meet the electric portfolios’ needs, including renewable and thermal based generation, power purchase agreements, and owned-energy resources comprised of different structures, terms and technologies with the long-term objective of a lowest cost, stable and reliable energy portfolio.  

“There is risk in not moving more quickly than what we propose, but the benefits of a measured approach include taking advantage of improving new technologies and changing costs,” said NorthWestern Energy President and CEO Bob Rowe. “Over the next several years we will also be laying the foundation to join the western United States ‘energy imbalance market’ which will allow us to operate our supply resources more efficiently and may give renewable energy developers in Montana greater access to western markets.”

NorthWestern’s current portfolio of resources delivers 61 percent carbon-free energy to its Montana customers. Portfolios modeled in the resource plan demonstrate that NorthWestern Energy can continue to reduce yearly carbon emissions while planning for the capacity needs of its customers.

The Montana Electricity Supply Resource Procurement Plan is updated and filed every two years with the Montana Public Service Commission. Visit to view the draft plan, submit comments, learn more about simple and effective ways to make your home more energy efficient, and about various bill payment and assistance options.

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About NorthWestern Energy (NYSE: NWE)
NorthWestern provides electricity and / or natural gas to approximately 726,400 customers in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. We have generated and distributed electricity in South Dakota and distributed natural gas in South Dakota and Nebraska since 1923 and have generated and distributed electricity and distributed natural gas in Montana since 2002. More information on NorthWestern is available on the company’s website at

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