December 10, 2019

Contact: Anne Hedges, Deputy Director Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC), 406-443-2520.

Contact: Brian Fadie, Clean Energy Program Director, MEIC, 406-443-2520

HELENA – At a time when virtually every utility in the country is planning to retire coal-fired power plants, NorthWestern Energy is proposing to increase its ownership in the Colstrip coal-fired power plant, potentially extending its operating life into the 2040’s. NorthWestern preposterously states that the move is an attempt to clean-up its energy supply, while buying a larger share of one of the dirtiest coal plants in the country. Moreover, the company is also proposing to build 4 new fracked gas plants while saying it doesn’t want any new renewable energy.

“Once again, this South Dakota company proves it cares more about shareholder profits than its Montana customers,” said Anne Hedges, Deputy Director, MEIC. “With rapidly increasing costs to run the plant, repairs needed that will cost tens of millions of dollars, a new coal contract that will increase the cost of customers’ electric bills, and massive cleanup costs on the horizon, there’s nothing good about this deal for customers. NorthWestern is trying to make its customers its indentured servants. This is greenwashing at its worst. It’s now up to the Montana PSC to stop NorthWestern from swindling its customers.”

“Yesterday over one hundred NorthWestern Energy customers showed up to tell the Montana Public Service Commission they want more clean, affordable, and renewable energy, yet today NorthWestern ignores those calls and is proposing to double down on coal,” said Brian Fadie, MEIC Clean Energy Program Director. “The PSC recently asked NorthWestern to analyze the impacts to customers of buying more of Colstrip, but the company refused. The company was hiding the true cost of the Colstrip plant then and it’s hiding those costs now. It is desperate to avoid revealing the cost of coal compared to cheaper and cleaner alternatives.”

According to the Montana Consumer Counsel, NorthWestern ratepayers are paying $74 per megawatt hour for Colstrip energy while the cost of Montana wind farms are down to $22 per megawatt hour. This Colstrip cost does not include either the recently revealed information that Colstrip Unit 4 will soon require $20 million in critical maintenance on its boiler nor the $7 million in increased costs due to the Colstrip plants 2018 outage as a result of violations of the Clean Air Act’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard. Also excluded are the costs associated with the increased price of fuel from a new coal supply contract.


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