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Government & Politics

Judge: Shareholder Cannot Compel NorthWestern To Consider Clean Energy Proposal

The stacks at the Colstrip coal-fired power plant emit white plumes against a blue sky
Kayla Desroches
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
A Missoula judge has ruled a shareholder of the state’s largest utility cannot compel the company to consider his clean energy proposal at an upcoming annual meeting.";

A federal judge in Missoula has ruled a shareholder of the state’s largest utility cannot compel the company to consider his clean energy proposal at an upcoming annual meeting.

Ovando-based Attorney Tom Tosdal sued NorthWestern Energy to include his proposal for review and vote at the company’s April shareholder meeting after NorthWestern declined to put it in its meeting packet. Judge Dana Christensen ruled in NorthWestern’s favor Feb. 25.
Tosdal says he respects the judge’s decision even though he’s disappointed and disagrees.
“Yeah, here’s the deal,” he says. “I’ve learned over the years that the one thing that corporations listen to the most is money, and this shareholder proposal was a way to get the investors in the company to voice their opinion on coal-fired electricity generation that’s spewing so much carbon dioxide into the air.”
Tosdal’s proposal called for NorthWestern to replace its coal-fired generation at the Colstrip Power Plant with renewable energy by the end of 2025. His lawsuit claimed that he’s held the necessary number of shares for more than a year and the company is therefore legally required to present his proposals to other shareholders for review.
In a summary judgment, Judge Christensen wrote while the question is close, NorthWestern made a stronger case in its argument that the vote is trying to micromanage a resource planning decision and therefore interferes with ordinary
NorthWestern spokesperson Jo Dee Black wrote in a statement that the ruling is a “positive for NorthWestern Energy’s shareholders and the company’s customers.”