News & Features

Montana Judge Finds Utility Skirted Renewable Energy Law

NorthWestern Energy was sued in November for not developing renewable energy projects

BILLINGS — A Montana judge has found that the state’s largest utility used faulty reasoning to skirt a law requiring it to acquire electricity from small renewable energy projects.

The Billings Gazette reported Tuesday that Judge James Manley also found that state regulators’ decision to accept NorthWestern Energy’s reasoning to waive compliance was “arbitrary and clearly erroneous.”

The Montana Environmental Information Center in November sued the utility for not developing renewable energy projects and the state Public Service Commission for granting waivers to utility.

The judge ruled that the utility used unreasonable construction timelines when considering projects, bypassed due diligence and ignored project bids.

A lawyer for the utility says NorthWestern is disappointed by the ruling and is considering if it will appeal.

The PSC issued a statement Wednesday saying commissioners believed NorthWestern Energy satisfied requirements for a waiver, but declined further comment.