NorthWestern Electric Rates Tops in Region

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – With its latest rate increase confirmed last month by Montana regulators, NorthWestern Energy has electric rates 20 percent higher than any other major utility in the region.

NorthWestern residential customers are now paying 10.2 cents per kilowatt hour.

An analysis by Lee Newspapers shows that is 20 percent higher than the region’s second-highest major-utility rate, 8.4 cents per kilowatt hour, charged by Black Hills Power in western South Dakota.

It’s also 70 percent higher than the region’s lowest-priced privately owned electric utility, Idaho Power Co., which charges its customers about 6 cents per kilowatt hour.

Unlike nearly all other major utilities in the region, NorthWestern doesn’t own any power plants. Its predecessor, Montana Power Co., sold off its power plants after Montana lawmakers passed a utility deregulation law in 1997.