Our 2019 Legislative Raffle ticket sale is underway! There are amazing prizes and the proceeds support MEIC’s crucial lobbying work? It’s a win-win scenario. Click through to learn more and get your tickets! Read More →
by Jim Jensen
MEIC has selected Tom Schneider, a former member of the Montana Public Service Commission and long time energy efficiency and renewable energy advocate as the 2018 recipient of the organization’s highest award – the Conservationist of the Year. Read More →
Recently, the state’s largest electric utility, NorthWestern Energy, took to these pages to yet again complain about renewable energy. This time it was about a Montana law that promotes rural economic development through renewable power production. Previously, NorthWestern has griped about rooftop solar and multiple federal renewable energy policies. At this point, is anyone surprised NorthWestern is once again fighting against renewable energy development?
by Derf Johnson
Coal plant closure announcements in the United States continue unabated, regardless of Donald Trump. Coal is increasingly becoming a financial albatross for utilities and their customers and shareholders as clean, renewable energy continues to drop in prices and further penetrate the market. What’s truly remarkable is that these retirements are almost entirely financially driven. The old narrative that coal is cheap and renewables are expensive is just simply not true. Just this past week:
August 21, 2018
A sample of what we can expect: Read More →
Tell NorthWestern Energy: Protect Customers and Invest in Clean EnergyRead the petition
Every two years, Montana’s largest private utility NorthWestern Energy is required to produce a Resource Procurement Plan—a blueprint for how to meet expected energy demand over the next 20 years. This plan helps guide the utility, as well as its regulators at the Public Service Commission and other stakeholders, on what to do when important decisions need to be made, such as what kind of power plants to build and when.
NorthWestern’s next Resource Procurement Plan is due in December 2018.
Sign the petition today asking NorthWestern to protect its customers from coal risks and to invest in clean energy!
The 2018 Resource Procurement Plan
In the 2018 plan, NorthWestern needs to prepare for the closure of Colstrip by 2027 or earlier.
NorthWestern owns a 30% share of Colstrip Unit 4. Currently, every other owner of Unit 4 has either agreed, proposed, or is required by law to pay off their outstanding Colstrip debt (aka “depreciate”) by 2027 or 2030, meaning they will be financially ready to close the plant by that time. In contrast, NorthWestern’s depreciation schedule is 2042. If Colstrip closes before NorthWestern has paid off its share of the plant, customers will be stuck paying for a power plant that is not producing electricity. This makes it extremely important that as NorthWestern plans for the future, it protect its customers by depreciating its outstanding Colstrip debt by 2027.
Therefore, in the 2018 Resource Procurement Plan, NorthWestern should prepare for this eventuality by modeling a scenario in which Colstrip closes by 2027.
What Should NorthWestern Do?
In the 2018 plan – and in future regulatory processes like the coming electric rate case – NorthWestern needs to protect its customers by preparing for Colstrip’s closure, including:
- Modeling a 2027 closure date for Colstrip in the 2018 resource plan.
- Planning to meet future energy needs with clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- Depreciating NorthWestern’s ownership of Colstrip by 2027 to protect customers just as other Colstrip owners have done.
- Set aside money to clean up polluted groundwater and help community transition in Colstrip just as other Colstrip owners have done.
Renewable Energy is Extremely Cost Competitive for NorthWestern Customers
Renewable energy such as wind and solar are the cheapest, cleanest, and least-risk generation options for the utility to meet its future electricity demand. In fact, the South Peak and Judith Gap wind facilities are the two cheapest power plants for NorthWestern customers. In contrast, coal-fired electricity from Colstrip is one of the most expensive sources of electricity for NorthWestern customers.
Former Montana Public Service Commissioner Tom Schneider writes in the Great Falls Tribune: “Montana’s energy future is bright…if we seize upon it!” Read More →
Montana Renewables Development Action Plan Read More →
by Anne Hedges
Raise your hand if you want to pay a lot more for energy that’s dirty.
Let’s talk money.
It’s tiring to hear people repeat the same argument they’ve made since the 1970’s without bothering to update their facts. Namely, “We need coal power because it’s so cheap.” The old argument goes that if we transition off of coal-fired power our bills will skyrocket. Forget the arguments on climate change and the cost that it imposes on society. Let’s just talk about the raw numbers of what we pay for electricity.