Our Company

For more than 100 years, NorthWestern Energy has been committed to delivering safe, reliable and innovative energy solutions.

We serve gas and electric to customers in the western two-thirds of Montana and eastern South Dakota. We also have gas service in Nebraska, and serve electricity to Yellowstone National Park.

We own and operate a diverse generation fleet of wind, water, natural gas and coal-fired resources and the high-voltage electric transmission system and distribution system. We also own and operate natural gas production, transmission and distribution systems.

Enriching Lives Through a Safe, Sustainable Energy Future

A map showing NorthWestern Energy's service territory in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Enriching Lives Through a Safe, Sustainable Energy Future

NorthWestern Energy has provided reliable and affordable electricity and natural gas to customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska for more than 100 years.

Our Commitment to Sustainability

Sustainability means meeting today’s needs while planning for tomorrow’s as well. It is not just a matter of good environmental practices, being a sustainable enterprise must also incorporate social and governance best practices.

Our vision

Enriching lives through a safe sustainable energy future.

Our mission

Working together to provide safe, reliable and innovative energy solutions that create value for customers, communities, employees, and investors.

Our values

SERVICE: Safety, Excellence, Respect, Value, Integrity, Community, Environment

Our Natural Gas and Electric Service

NorthWestern Energy serves 337 communities in Montana, South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park with safe and reliable electricity. We serve natural gas to 202 communities in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Our Hydro Facilities

Our carbon-free hydro system is the foundation of our energy generation portfolio in Montana. In 2022, 32% of our electricity for Montana customers came from our hydro facilities.

Giving Back to Our Communities

NorthWestern Energy is committed to being a good corporate citizen of all the communities we serve. In 2022, we gave $2.1 million in charitable donations and community support.

Delivering a Bright Future

Employee Noel Jacobson wears a hard hat and smiles in Power Park.

Delivering a Bright Future

We won't stop working until the future is as bright as it can be.

Where Does Your Energy Come From?

We provide safe, reliable energy through a balanced mix of clean energy and traditional resources.
John Hines

The facts are without action, reliable energy service in Montana is at risk

Date: Apr 26, 2023

By NorthWestern Energy Vice President Supply/Montana Government Affairs John Hines

The facts don’t lie. Rhetoric disputing those facts doesn’t add up.

That fact is NorthWestern Energy doesn’t have enough 24/7, on-demand generation to serve our Montana customers reliably during critical weather in an affordable manner.

The fact is NorthWestern Energy is responsible for providing reliable, safe energy service at reasonable rates for our Montana customers today, tomorrow and in the future.

Our plans are years in the making to mitigate the risk our Montana customers face. The fact is Montana should increase our energy independence, with more generation resources in the state dedicated to serve Montanans and end the grip of out-of-state energy policies.

The 175 megawatt natural gas fired Yellowstone County Generating Station was selected two years ago from a competitive project solicitation for resources to provide 24/7, on-demand generation our Montana customers need for reliable service in all weather conditions. The third-party solicitation evaluator recommended the project to meet that need reliably at the least cost. Wind, solar, storage, hybrid and other conventional technology projects were evaluated too.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality issued an air quality permit for the Yellowstone County Generating Station on Sept. 8. 2021 after a thorough review of our application that is consistent with state laws and regulations.

On April 6, 2023, after more than 550 days of construction work, a Montana District Court judge vacated the permit and sent our application back to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to analyze again. 

Now most of the 250 workers building the Yellowstone County Generation Station, including 190 union craft workers, are laid off. That is a tough blow to the workers and their families and the local and regional businesses supporting those workers and the construction of the plant. 

The District Court judge’s order faults the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for not adequately addressing the carbon effect of the plant. But carbon effects aren’t included in the criteria Montana requires to be evaluated for air quality permits. The judge’s order sets a new standard.

NorthWestern Energy’s contractors have worked for a year and a half in all weather conditions so that the Yellowstone County Generating Station will be ready to serve our Montana customers’ peak energy demands a year from now, during the hottest days of summer in 2024 and the coldest nights in winter in 2025.

We’ve spent more than $180 million on construction. The final expected $275 million cost of the plant may increase with this delay and it may not be available to serve our Montana customers next summer.

The negative economic consequences of the District Court ruling will reach beyond the Yellowstone County Generating Station project. Adding carbon effects as a new criteria for Montana air quality permits could impact subdivision development, land fill operations, cement plants and almost any other development in the state.

Those far-reaching negative economic consequences are the reason the Montana Legislature is considering two bills addressing this judge’s decision. NorthWestern Energy didn’t initiate either effort and if passed, neither will apply to the District Court judge’s order vacating the air quality permit for the Yellowstone County Generating Station. But the diverse group of stakeholders supporting the legislation recognize the chilling impact the order could have on development in the state and Montana’s business climate. 

To be very clear − our Montana customers can’t afford this delay.

A wind or solar project scaled to provide the on-demand, 24/7 energy generation equivalent to the Yellowstone County Generating Station would cost more than $2 billion and $4 billion respectively. Our customers can’t afford those project price tags.

Today up to 40% of the energy needed to meet our Montana customers’ highest demands is from the energy market, most imported from out-of-state. Market energy purchases are extremely costly for our Montana customers, increasing by 59% from 2021 and totaling $130 million in 2022. 

Energy companies across the West face risks to energy supply during the next decade. Energy resource concerns aren’t unique to NorthWestern Energy’s Montana customers, but rolling blackouts in the middle of extreme winter cold could be.

The fact is NorthWestern Energy is taking actions now to continue to provide the reliable, safe, cost-effective energy service we do today into the future. That is our responsibility to our Montana customers and it is in the best interest of our state.