Pennsylvania Power & Light Sells Montana Dams

PPL sell Montana dams to, forthcoming, Northwestern Energy. Big news in Montana, these parts for sure.

Will this change the operation of said dams? No.

“PPL clearly wants to get out of Montana,” Toole said. “So, good riddance to them. Too bad they took so much of our money, and I sure hope they’re not taking a bunch more here.


If you are not aware of the history of this story, here is the short lesson.

PPL purchased the hydro electric dams 15 years ago, much to the dismay of Montanan’s. The shit storm hit when…now Montana has an opportunity to make things right. Keeping our power in our state. That is certainly the sentiment in the state.

From the Missoulian

Timeline for dereg, sale, and repurchase of hydro dams

HELENA – A look back at the tortured trail of the former Montana Power Co., utility deregulation and MPC’s successor, NorthWestern:

April 1997: Montana Legislature passes and Gov. Marc Racicot signs landmark electric utility, gas deregulation bills, which are proposed by Montana Power Co.

December 1997: Montana Power Co. announces it will sell all of its electric power plants in Montana, including coal-fired and hydroelectric projects, stunning the state.

November 1998: MPC announces that the purchaser is PPL Inc., a Pennsylvania utility and power company.

December 1999: PPL Montana takes control of power plants, paying $767 million.

March 2000: MPC board of directors decides to spin off telecom subsidiary, Touch America, as separate company and sell off MPC’s other energy assets.

August 2000: MPC sells off its natural gas and oil wells to PanCanadian Petroleum Ltd. of Calgary.

September 2000: MPC sells its coal-mining assets to Westmoreland Coal Co.

October 2000: MPC announces it will sell entire electric and gas distribution system to NorthWestern Corp., a little-known utility based in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Late 2000, early 2001: Western electric energy crisis hits, with market prices skyrocketing, forcing many Montana industrial operations to shut down and lay off workers, or continue paying huge electric bills.

September 2001: MPC stockholders approve conversion to Touch America.

June 2003: Touch America declares bankruptcy, its stock worthless.

September 2003: NorthWestern, beset by debts caused by non-utility investments, files for bankruptcy protection.

November 2004: NorthWestern emerges from bankruptcy as restructured company.

April 2007: Montana Legislature passes bill to “re-regulate” electric utilities, allowing NorthWestern to buy its own power-generating assets.

August 2008: Bob Rowe, former state public service commissioner, becomes new CEO of NorthWestern, vows efforts to rebuild traditional utility.

Sept. 26, 2013: NorthWestern announces it will buy 11 hydroelectric dams that were sold to PPL in 1999.

The Missoulian Article here

List of dams in proposed sale

HELENA – NorthWestern Energy Thursday announced its plans to buy 11 hydroelectric projects from PPL Montana for $900 million.

The dams’ hydroelectric plants have a capacity of 630 megawatts. The dams in the proposed deal include:

Kerr Dam: On the Flathead River, southwest of Polson. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have been negotiating to buy the dam from PPL Montana. NorthWestern CEO Bob Rowe said he assumes the tribes will want to go ahead with the purchase.

Hebgen Lake Dam: The purchase includes this dam on the Madison River near Yellowstone National Park and the storage reservoir behind it.

Madison Dam: Just north of Ennis Lake, on the Madison River.

Hauser and Holter dams: Two dams on the Missouri River, north of Helena.

Black Eagle, Rainbow, Cochrane, Ryan and Morony dams: On the Missouri River, in and near Great Falls.

Thompson Falls Dam: On the Clark Fork River, near Thompson Falls.

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  • Being a PA dude originally, I couldn’t agree more. We say PPL stands for piss poor and lame. Look at Hebgen. .  Junk show.

  • Nice journalism! What about Milltown Dam? Oh yeah, it’s burning in dam hell!!

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