While NorthWestern Energy is spending thousands of dollars on TV, radio and print ads touting its commitment to renewable energy, our monopoly utility is doing everything it can to thwart any such development in Montana.

Its current 20-year resource procurement plan proposes the construction of new, very expensive gas generation and rejects any investment in wind and solar energy, although these renewable resources are now out-competing new fossil fuel generation in neighboring states. Moreover, NWE has recently sought to expand its ownership in Colstrip, its most expensive power source, even as the majority of co-owners are pulling out and planning for decommissioning the coal-fired plant in 2025. Failing to prepare for the inevitable closure of Colstrip is reckless and puts ratepayers at great financial risk.

The growing climate crisis makes any plan that relies solely on building new fossil-fuel generation irrational and extremely risky. Any new gas plants would have a lifespan of at least 40 years and would surely become stranded assets within that period, becoming a huge financial liability for ratepayers.

A more responsible plan would have our utility demonstrate that it is preparing for a post-Colstrip power grid by 2025. At a minimum, NWE should model and analyze replacing Colstrip power with Montana-produced renewable energy and research current proposals for local energy storage that would enhance the reliability of our grid.

The Public Service Commission is now reviewing NorthWestern Energy’s 20-year plan and is accepting public comment. Please take a few minutes to go to the PSC website and weigh in with your concerns. Our future—and that of our grandchildren—depends on it.

Jennifer Swearingen