Nuclear power a possibility for Montana, NorthWestern tells SD regulators

South Dakota regulators questioning NorthWestern Energy’s nuclear energy study plans in February were quick to ask whether the utility’s Montana customers would be sharing the costs.

NorthWestern approached South Dakota’s utility commission Feb. 8, asking for approval to bill customers for a nuclear power plant study. The company indicated that it had already done a month’s work with global consultancy Roland Berger and planned to meet a May application deadline for federal subsidies.

The path for nuclear power in Montana is complicated, the utility told South Dakota regulators. In both states, NorthWestern identifies nuclear power as an option to replace retiring coal-fired power plants, should it be forced to do so by regulators, though In Montana the utility is preparing to double the amount of owned coal power in its portfolio.

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“NorthWestern has not identified a date certain for nuclear in Montana, only the possibility. But to be ready for the possibility, NorthWestern has modeled retirement scenarios that include adding nuclear in 2030 and 2035,” the company told the South Dakota Public Utility Commission.

In January, NorthWestern CEO Brian Bird hinted

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