Butte, Mont., December 16, 2011 — NorthWestern Corp., a unit of NorthWestern Energy, has submitted to the Montana Public Service Commission its biennial Electricity Supply Resource Procurement Plan that discusses some of the short- and long-term steps to maintain and acquire reliable, cost-effective energy resources for customers.
A balanced approach to portfolio management is reflected in the 2011 Plan where stakeholders are informed about the analytical methods, supporting information and the conclusions derived from long-term planning work.
Changing conditions and future uncertainty have caused NorthWestern to review earlier planning assumptions and work in each of its long-term planning cycles that are updated every two years.
It has adjusted resource acquisition planning to properly reflect current and forecast conditions, including market forecasts, to ascertain options and actions available to NorthWestern and to retail customers.
NorthWestern is pursuing the orderly rebuilding of a vertically integrated electric utility through asset development and/or purchase as authorized under the Electric Utility Industry Generation Reintegration Act (Section 69-8-101 through 69-8-426, MCA).
Owned assets would provide cost-effective generating resources that would allow customers, regulators, and NorthWestern to exercise greater control over future long-term energy costs while assuring reliable delivery at known and predictable rates.
NorthWestern is looking for opportunities to cost-effectively integrate new owned electric generation resources into the electricity supply resource portfolio to achieve long-term stable rates for customers.
NorthWestern's three year action plan contains specific measures and steps showing how NorthWestern intends to move forward and put into "action" the steps it has defined in order to meet resource needs and maintain reliable, cost-effective electricity supply resources. Three-year action plan steps are a combination of the following initiatives and ongoing activities:
* Identify, consider, and procure, if available, electric generation assets that meet acceptable levels of portfolio energy, cost and risk;
* Replace the existing electricity supply contracts (including the volumes associated with the PPL 7-year agreement) set to expire in the 2012-2014 timeframe with new, 3- to 5- year staged market-based supply contracts and/or utility owned generation assets;
* Refine analysis associated with gas-fired generation technology including the evaluation of costs, resource flexibility, and portfolio needs;
* Evaluate options to define resource adequacy standards including specific resource attributes and load serving capabilities;
* Improve the strategies and methods associated with integrating intermittent resources including wind power;
* Meet renewable portfolio standards consistent with Montana statutes;
* Add new electric supply resources to the portfolio (including Spion Kop and QFs);
NorthWestern has prepared and submitted biennial plans since 2003. The plan is intended to be a guide to inform the PSC and customers of the decision-making process, rationale and vision developed by NorthWestern and its advisors to secure supply resources.