On December 13, more than 40 Northern Plains members and staff braved the cold, adorned with Christmas hats and festive signs to demand that NorthWestern Energy halt construction of their methane fired power plant in Laurel, Montana and to raise the community’s awareness of this important issue.
Northern Plains has been fighting the construction of this methane fired power plant since we learned of the company’s plans to construct this massive industrial plant immediately adjacent to the Yellowstone River on land explicitly zoned for agricultural use. This plant will require eighteen smokestacks – seven stories tall each – dominating the landscape, emitting air and noise pollution in Laurel and throughout Yellowstone County. But the corporation has tried to cut local residents and ratepayers out of the process at every turn. Earlier this month, Northern Plains members and staff had enough of the corporation working to silence their voices and they took to the streets of Laurel to make their concerns and oppositions known.
In addition to concerns about the polluting impacts of the plant, Northern Plains members are concerned about the costs to ratepayers associated with this plant. Earlier this fall NorthWestern Energy raised rates for customers by $92 million and are asking to increase that to $170 million in the coming months. The corporation estimates that the costs associated with constructing this plant will top $286 million. But that figure doesn’t include the costs of operating or maintaining the methane fired plant, nor does it include the costs to transport the methane fuel to the plant.