Blackout warnings by PSC commissioners unfounded, utility says

No, Eastern Montana customers of MDU are not at risk of summer blackouts, contrary to a press release issued Thursday by Montana’s Public Service commissioners.

Clarifying the issue after business hours, Montana Dakota Utilities said they have adequate power supply and expect no blackouts stemming from heat waves in the middle of the United States. MDU has 26,000 metered electric customers in Eastern Montana, including Sidney, Glendive and Baker.

“The bottom line: The company has sufficient generation resources to meet its peak demand requirements,” said MDU’s Mark Hanson in an email. “While we do not anticipate any issues and a blackout or firm load shed event is not likely, there is always a possibility it could happen.”

At issue is an alarming afternoon announcement by Montana utility regulators in which commissioners Randy Pinocci and Tony O’Donnell cite “the probable lack of energy leading to ‘rolling blackouts’ in eastern Montana this summer as well as frighteningly real possibilities of hugely inadequate shortages in Montana in winter.”

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