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NorthWestern energy plan out for public comment, listening sessions planned

by Daily Montanan
| August 16, 2023 12:00 AM

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 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.

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 Aug. 28. In its notice, the PSC announced the following listening sessions:

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

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

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