How much can Montana residents expect to pay for natural gas and electricity when winter arrives?
We spoke to Jo Dee Black, public information officer for Northwestern Energy, who said, without providing specific numbers, that Montanans’ power bills will reflect the rate of inflation.
The current inflation rate for energy sources is 7.5%.
“Northwestern Energy works very diligently to ensure sufficient capacity for our customers so that we can meet their energy demands, including peak demands, particularly in the winter when it’s critical, reliably and at reasonable prices,” Black began. “We’ve been doing this all year. We have requested certain rate increases and those rate increases are in line with inflation.
Black was careful to state that the majority of Northwestern Energy’s electricity will come from “carbon-free sources.”
“Our energy portfolio is 60% carbon-free, and that includes hydro, our wind resources here in Montana, and some solar,” she said. “We own a share of Colstrip (coal-fired power station). It is a very cost effective and reliable resource that we can count on to provide energy when we need it at reasonable rates.
Black said that Northwestern Energy cannot produce all the energy Montana people need, so some must be purchased on the open market.
“We are building more today at peak energy demand,” she said. “We’re still in the market buying power at times of very high demand from our customers in Montana for about 40-50% of the power we need, and that’s exactly why we let’s build more capacity. We are building the Yellowstone County Generating Station south of Laurel, which will help add capacity to our portfolio serving Montana. »
Black said Northwestern Energy has specific programs to help those in need pay their energy bills.
“Whenever people are worried or struggling to pay their energy bill, we want them to contact us,” she said. “There are programs and payment plans we can help you with and our customer service team is ready to help them access these programs and get referrals to these programs, as well as help them define and to arrange flexible payment options.”
One program is called by the acronym LIHEAP (The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program). Click here for more details.
We also reached out to the Montana Public Service Commission for more details on upcoming increases in electric bills.