Big Sky Roundup

NorthWestern energy plan out for public comment, listening sessions planned

By: - August 10, 2023 12:21 pm

Electricity pylons (Photo by Getty Images).

NorthWestern Energy said flexible natural gas is one of the resources it needs to provide electricity to customers in the next couple of decades — but the Montana Public Service Commission is holding listening sessions starting next week on the monopoly utility’s plan.

The first of five sessions is scheduled for Monday in Great Falls.

“The 2023 plan evaluates different potential generation resources that could meet the needs of NorthWestern’s electric service customers in Montana over the next 20 years,” said the PSC in a notice of five listening sessions this month.

Public Comment

Comment at each session may be provided in-person, by telephone, or by videoconference. Commenters participating by telephone or videoconference must sign up to receive participation instructions. To sign up, please contact the Commission at 1-800-646-6150 or [email protected] by 5 p.m. on the day before you intend to provide comment.

Source: PSC

In the plan — an Integrated Resource Plan — submitted to the PSC, NorthWestern Energy discusses preparing for the future.

“NorthWestern aims to achieve and maintain resource adequacy in the near future to reduce the risk of blackouts due to insufficient generation or transmission capacity to meet load,” the plan said.

The Montana Environmental Information Center said NorthWestern’s plan would result in a system that is “unaffordable, unreliable and ignores the climate crisis.” MEIC, which works on energy resource issues, said the plan fails to consider ways to reduce the need for power or more affordable, renewable options.

The deadline for public comment is August 28. In its notice, the PSC announced the following listening sessions:

  • Great Falls on Monday, August 14, at 6 p.m. at the Commission Chambers in the Civic Center, located at 2 Park Drive South .

  • Helena on Tuesday, August 15, at noon at the Bollinger Room in the offices of the Montana Public Service Commission, located at 1701 Prospect Avenue.

  • Billings on Wednesday, August 16, at 6 p.m. at the Board of Oil & Gas Conservation headquarters, located at 2535 St. Johns Avenue.

  • Butte on Thursday, August 17, at 6 p.m. in the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives, located at 17 W. Quartz.

  • Missoula on Tuesday, August 22, at 6 p.m. in Room 340 of the Missoula College Learning Center (river campus), located at 1205 E. Broadway Avenue.

The PSC notice also said the sessions will be live-streamed on its website at



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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.