When extreme temperatures grip Montana, Colstrip provides reliable energy to help NorthWestern Energy meet our customers’ energy needs. That will not change.
NorthWestern Energy, and specifically me, have repeatedly explained the critical value of our interest in Colstrip Unit 4 and the Colstrip Transmission System in meeting our customers’ needs during peak demand. Montana’s energy needs are substantially different than those in others states and we will always focus on what is best for Montana and our customers, which means working hard to maintain affordability and reliability and this includes Colstrip Unit 4.
In September while addressing the Montana Board of Regents in Butte, I was asked about the state of the mining industry, of which coal is an important piece. My candid response in that context was speculative driven by processes outside of Montana that are proposing varying outcomes regarding the future of Colstrip. Those processes are outside of the control of NorthWestern, but we will continue to rely on Colstrip, a critical resource.
Later that month I addressed the Montana Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee in which I described the recent challenges we have had in meeting customer requirements during the peak summer and winter periods – even with all of Colstrip available.
Because we are significantly short of resources when demand is high, we buy energy on the short-term market. That is often when the rest of our region is experiencing high energy demand, which means market prices are spiking. Not only is this expensive, it has the potential to compromise reliability, as electric generation resources in Montana and the region are retired.
Providing reliable energy to our customers around the clock, 365 days a year is a privilege and a responsibility every NorthWestern Energy employee takes very seriously. Our interest in Colstrip Unit 4 and the Colstrip Transmission System is critical to our continued safe and reliable energy service to our customers.
Mike Cashell, NorthWestern Energy VP Transmission