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If you are a NorthWestern Energy customer — beware! It wants to charge you more for an unreliable coal plant. 

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) is considering whether to allow NorthWestern Energy to charge you an additional 6.25% because the aging Colstrip coal-fired power plant broke down – again. The PSC needs to hear from Montanans that they don’t want to pay extra for a dirty, coal-fired power plant.

NorthWestern Energy owns 30% of Colstrip Unit 4. Two years ago Colstrip broke and wasn’t able to generate any electricity for six months. Just a few years before that it broke down and was off-line for 6 months as well. During both break-downs, if you were a NorthWestern Energy customer you were still paying for the broken plant (as if it were working) AND the replacement power, allowing NorthWestern Energy to “double-dip” and charge Montana consumers even more. The PSC needs to hear that Montanans don’t want their electric bills to increase because of an unreliable and aging coal plant.

Colstrip was already expensive before this proposed rate hike (see graph in slideshow). Year after year it is one of NorthWestern’s most expensive electricity sources. Colstrip’s power is twice as expensive as the Judith Gap wind farm. It’s far more expensive than energy efficiency. It’s also unreliable. Over the last several years it has been off-line nearly one-fifth of the time. The bottom line is the dirty old Colstrip coal plant is a bad deal for bill payers. Please contact the PSC, and remind them to represent Montana consumers, not utility stockholders.

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