BIG NEWS from the Public Service Commission

Always Remember to Say Thank You!

The Montana Public Service Commission recently made two decisions that protect consumers and gives clean energy a fair shake. Please thank the commissioners for standing up to NorthWestern Energy, protecting consumers, and helping Montana’s clean energy fairly compete in out-of-state markets. The tool on the right will send a thank you note to each commissioner.

Thank You Public Service Commissioners

Dear Commissioner,

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#1 Protecting Consumers While Giving Clean Energy Fair Treatment

On January 31st the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) voted unanimously to strongly rebuke NorthWestern Energy’s latest long-term energy plan due to multiple serious concerns. MEIC and our members asked them to do just that last summer — and the PSC listened!

NorthWestern proposed building 13 expensive and risky new gas-fired generating units at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion. If built, these gas plants would have all but eliminated the possibility for new clean energy. However, the PSC found:

  • NorthWestern did not properly evaluate alternatives to natural gas plants, including energy storage technologies such as pumped hydro, as well as wind, solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency.
  • NorthWestern did not properly model the costs and benefits of wind and solar, saying the utility over-priced wind and solar and did not accurately evaluate the amount of energy these sources can provide.
  • NorthWestern did not describe how the hydro-electric dams it purchased in 2014 could be optimally integrated with the generation resources it already owns. Without this analysis there is no reliable baseline number from which to determine NorthWestern’s true future energy needs.
  • The PSC essentially told NorthWestern to go back to the drawing board. It gave NorthWestern until December 2018 to come up with a new long-term resource plan. It also told NorthWestern to make the planning process much more transparent and allow broader participation.

#2 PSC Helps to Eliminate Federal Fee that Harms Clean Energy

Currently, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) charges Montana energy producers an extra fee if they want to use a short section of BPA’s 15,000 mile transmission system. This 90-mile stretch of line, from Townsend to Garrison, is critical for sending electricity to West Coast markets. The fee unfairly disadvantages Montana wind energy producers from selling electricity to out-of-state markets. It also increases energy costs for ratepayers in Montana.

All five commissioners recently signed a letter to BPA asking for the removal of this extra fee due to its impact on ratepayers in Montana. Removal of this extra fee would bring down another barrier to clean energy development in Montana.

Please use the tool above and/or call PSC commissioners at (406) 444-6199 and thank them for these two helpful actions.