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Plan For Natural Gas Fired Plant In South Central Montana Moves Forward

The outside of the NorthWestern Energy building in Butte, Montana.
Nora Saks
Montana Public Radio
The outside of the NorthWestern Energy building in Butte, Montana.

Montana electric utility regulators are starting the approval process for a natural gas-fired plant in south-central Montana.

Regulators on the Montana Public Service Commission okayed NorthWestern Energy’s application for advance project approval Monday. The utility is seeking the go-ahead to acquire and build a 175-megawatt natural gas-fired plant in Laurel.

“Y’know we’re really looking at a pretty mundane procedural question here whether or not NorthWestern checked all the boxes necessary for us to accept the application,” says Montana Public Service Commission Vice chairman Brad Johnson.

NorthWestern’s application estimates the Laurel Generating Station along with 50-megawatts of newly acquired battery storage in Yellowstone County would increase the average residential customer’s monthly bill by roughly 6 dollars and 60 cents

NorthWestern estimates it’s short 555 megawatts when it comes to meeting peak customer electricity demand. The utility points to the development of fossil fuels like natural gas as the most reliable way to meet the shortfall.

The Montana Public Service Commission has roughly 270 days to approve or deny the projects.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.