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NorthWestern Energy has no interest in acquiring more than an incremental portion of critical power from Colstrip to serve its Montana customers

Apr 14, 2021

Butte, Mont. – April 14, 2021 – Misinformation about NorthWestern Energy’s potential interest in acquiring additional power from the Colstrip Power Plant is undermining the opportunity for a productive discussion and misleading the public about the future of this valuable Montana resource. Opponents of coal generation are using Senate Bill 379, legislation intended to facilitate continued operation of the Colstrip Power Plant, to spread a false narrative about Colstrip and NorthWestern Energy.  

To be clear, NorthWestern Energy would only consider acquiring enough additional critical power from Colstrip to reliably and affordably serve our Montana customers. That need is far less than the output of even one unit of the Colstrip Power Plant.

“Colstrip is a reliable, affordable 24/7 energy source located in Montana that is operating now,” said John Hines, NorthWestern Energy Vice President Supply and Montana Government Affairs. “We believe acquiring additional critical power from Colstrip is in the best interest of our Montana customers. Our focus is and will continue to be reliable, affordable energy that is available when our customers need it and grid stability for all Montanans whether they are a NorthWestern Energy customer or not.

"It is disappointing to see the same opponents that worked previously to close Colstrip continue to distort facts with wildly outrageous assumptions and baseless cost estimates again. Any agreement NorthWestern Energy enters for an acquisition of critical power from Colstrip must meet our customers’ electricity requirements at the lowest cost.”

Today in Montana, about 46% of NorthWestern Energy customers’ peak demand is supplied with western power market purchases, exposing our customers to volatile prices and an increasing risk that the market may not have 24/7 energy to buy during critical demand times. NorthWestern Energy’s customers are more exposed to the market than customers of any other investor-owned energy company in the Pacific Northwest.

“Regional experts are saying what we have been deeply concerned about for quite some time — the probability of regional blackouts during high demand times is increasing and becoming very real,” said Hines. “California, Texas and Midwest states have all experienced recent blackouts. Montana needs to take much more aggressive action now to keep our state from experiencing that fate.” 

Senate Bill 379 establishes the business conditions for committed parties to help maintain operations in the Colstrip Power Plant. NorthWestern Energy has weighed the alternatives and concluded that a power purchase agreement with a Colstrip owner is the best way to address our customers’ reliability needs. 

The Montana Public Service Commission under Senate Bill 379 clearly retains regulatory authority and will decide if a power purchase agreement for Colstrip energy is in our customers’ best interest.

Senate Bill 379, which helps maintain at least a portion of the Colstrip Power Plant while affordable and reliable alternatives continue to be developed, is in the best interest of Montana and our customers.

We will continue to work around the clock to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy service as we all work together toward a transition to an even cleaner energy future.

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About NorthWestern Energy (Nasdaq: NWE)

NorthWestern provides electricity and / or natural gas to approximately 743,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. We have generated and distributed electricity in South Dakota and distributed natural gas in South Dakota and Nebraska since 1923 and have generated and distributed electricity and distributed natural gas in Montana since 2002. More information on NorthWestern is available on the company’s website at


Media Contact:     
Jo Dee Black
(866) 622-8081

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