By Anne Hedges
In March, 32 organizations from across Montana sent a letter to NorthWestern Energy’s Board of Directors requesting they direct the utility to develop an actionable and impactful decarbonization plan. NorthWestern’s largest financial investors have raised concerns about companies that fail to plan for a lower carbon future. NorthWestern has recently received poor environment and social ratings of its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores from risk analysts such as Moody’s.
The letter implored the Board of Directors to “adopt a meaningful climate strategy that will make it more resilient and prepared for the clean energy future,” which would include developing measurable benchmarks along its path toward decarbonization.
MEIC signed the letter along with other groups including public consumer advocates, health care professionals, consultants, and more.
The same day the letter was sent, NorthWestern released a statement announcing its goal to be net zero in carbon emissions by 2050. While a noteworthy first step, NorthWestern remains a decade behind other utilities in the region that have planned for and are currently decarbonizing.
In fact, NorthWestern’s net zero goal calls for building more fossil fuel pipelines and generation facilities until 2035 and omits important benchmarks for emission reductions. NorthWestern’s proposed approach would move the utility in exactly the wrong direction and is in opposition to the goals of its largest investors. Increased fossil fuel dependency also means increased costs for customers, more expensive stranded assets, and a failure to decarbonize according to the latest scientific research.
As NorthWestern Energy gears up to begin the next Resource Procurement Plan process, stay tuned to MEIC’s action alerts for updates about how you can get involved. You can also sign up for alerts from NorthWestern Energy on their website: www.northwesternenergy.com/about-us/gas-electric/electric-supply-resource-procurement-plan.
This article was published in the March 2022 issue of Down To Earth.