Keila Szpaller

Keila Szpaller

Keila Szpaller is deputy editor of the Daily Montanan and covers education. Before joining States Newsroom Montana, she served as city editor of the Missoulian, the largest news outlet in western Montana.

Committee tables controversial bill to help NorthWestern

By: - April 21, 2021

Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, said his caucus loves coal. Nonetheless, a House committee voted 11-1 on Wednesday to table a bill that purported to encourage coal-fired energy production at Colstrip. “Montana was built on coal. Many of us want to keep it,” Skees said. Chairman Skees said many Republicans want to find a way to […]

NorthWestern proposes $250M natural gas plant in Laurel

By: - April 21, 2021

NorthWestern Energy has proposed building a $250 million natural gas plant in Laurel to help meet part of its need for power, the utility said this week in a news release. The Laurel Generating Station is among three agreements NorthWestern announced in the news release to add a total 325 megawatts of power to its […]

Union leader: School choice bill risks $16M of recovery funds

By: - April 20, 2021

The state of Montana risks losing $16 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds during the next four years if House Bill 279 becomes law, according to the Montana Federation of Public Employees. Amanda Curtis, president of the federation, offered that analysis during the most recent hearing on HB279, a “school choice” bill to raise […]

Colstrip bill reminds many of energy deregulation ‘debacle’

By: - April 20, 2021

It’s no wonder that people talk about the 1997 energy deregulation debacle in Montana in the same breath as Senate Bill 379. This bill landed later in the session, just like the one more than 20 year ago pushed by then-Sen. Fred Thomas of Stevensville. Like that bill, it comes with a hope that Montana […]

Energy consultant: Bill would make NorthWestern a more attractive purchase

By: - April 15, 2021

NorthWestern Energy would look like a pretty good company to buy. That’s one scenario that hasn’t been talked about much in relation to a bill that aims to help NorthWestern and its ownership of the coal fired plants in Colstrip, according to an energy industry consultant. On the one hand, supporters of Senate Bill 379 […]

Montana power customer: ‘Bill castrates PSC’

By: - April 15, 2021

St. Patrick Hospital isn’t the average NorthWestern Energy customer. The hospital pays a power bill of $1.5 million a year, and Senate Bill 379 will only push up that cost, according to a St. Pat’s physician and former legislator. “This added cost … has to come out of something,” said Greg Lind, division chief for […]

House approves Colstrip bills

By: - April 13, 2021

Montana doesn’t need “the West Coast” telling it what to do. That was one sentiment Republican legislators expressed this week as they pushed one of several bills this session they believe will help NorthWestern Energy keep the Colstrip power plant running. The House discussed Senate Bills 265 and 266 on Monday and approved them Tuesday […]

PSC staff: Colstrip bill ‘ambiguous,’ could cost ratepayers

By: - April 12, 2021

Customers would pay an extra $56 to $86 a year for power if NorthWestern Energy increased its ownership of Colstrip Unit 4 as it proposed to do in 2020, according to an analysis of Senate Bill 379 released Friday by Montana Public Service Commission staff. During the life of the plant, estimated at 21 years, […]

Updated: Amended Colstrip bill heads to House

By: - April 9, 2021

A bill to encourage coal generation was sent to the Montana House on Thursday after earning 27-21 approval in the Senate on third reading. “This is a bill to ensure the lights turn on when you want them on,” said Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick on the Senate floor earlier this week. Sponsor Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls, said […]

UPDATED: Special needs ‘school choice’ bill tabled, chair said had too many issues

By: - April 7, 2021

A bill that would lend taxpayer support to special needs students outside public schools — and one that’s a priority for Gov. Greg Gianforte — was tabled Wednesday in the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee. However, Rep. Sue Vinton, R-Billings, said she hopes the Senate still will take the opportunity to consider the legislation. […]

Montana Senate advances income tax bill

By: - April 6, 2021

After one couple in Montana adopted a child, they used the state’s adoption tax credit. With the extra money, they were able to adopt another child, something they couldn’t have afforded without the credit, said Sen. Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena. “It does not cost the state of Montana a lot, but it is meaningful to […]

Poll results: Montanans support local health officers

By: - April 6, 2021

Just 17 percent of Montanans want elected officials to make decisions about public health — most,  70 percent, are more likely to trust local boards of health with related concerns. That’s according to results of a recent poll conducted by New Bridge Strategy and provided Tuesday in a video presentation. The survey was sponsored by […]