GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Interest in solar power is soaring in Montana because of the state’s sunny skies and profit potential.
But the Great Falls Tribunes reports that NorthWestern Energy, the largest public utility in Montana, is seeking a sharp cut in rates set by the Public Service Commission. That could curb some of the enthusiasm.
NorthWestern currently pays $66 per megawatt-hour for solar electricity and has requested that be dropped to $34. The utility argues that entering contracts with solar providers at the current rate will mean higher electricity bills for the 360,000 Montana customers.
Kathi Montgomery, who is the renewable specialist with the state Department of Environmental Quality’s Energy Bureau, says that if the rate is cut in half, many proposed projects will stall.
Police look for suspect in Billings stabbing
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a suspect who stabbed a man multiple times and left the victim wounded in a Billings alley.
The Billings Gazette reports that police say officers had responded early Sunday to find a 34-year-old man in the alley behind a residence with four stab wounds. He was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life threatening.
Police say a witness told them the stabbing followed an altercation between the victim and an 18-year-old man at a residence.
No arrests have been made.
The incident remains under investigation.
Conservation groups in Missoula eye area on south side
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana conservation trust has raised $1 million toward buying a rugged 4,200-acre triangle on Missoula’s south side, sparking excitement among runners, mountain bikers and others who see potential for using the area that is 1,000 acres bigger than the rest of the city’s open space lands combined.
The Missoulian reports the Five Valleys Land Trust announced Saturday that it had raised the money for a three-year option to buy Mount Dean Stone from The Nature Conservancy. The eventual price tag is about $4.5 million. The two organizations intend to leverage their networks of donors and affiliated groups to raise the money.
Five Valleys Land Trust Executive Director Grant Kier said he hopes to see community organizations working together to build the property’s amenities and steward its natural qualities.
Nevada program testing flying drones to sniff out radiation
LAS VEGAS (AP) — If there’s ever a radiological catastrophe in the U.S. like the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, remote-controlled drones could be deployed from a federal program in Nevada to check for contamination.
Nevada National Security Site officials announced they now have two unmanned aerial vehicles to sniff the sky and provide an eye from above in the event of an emergency.
National Security Technologies chief Jim Holt says pilotless aircraft could be used where it’s not safe for people.
Drone program manager Karen McCall says seven team members — including remote-controllers, engineers and mechanics — are training to have the unmanned aerial systems program up and flying this fall.
The drones will add to a fleet already including a helicopter and a twin-engine airplane based at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas.
Wyoming candidates united for coal, against EPA
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) — Candidates vying to fill Wyoming’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives are united against the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans for coal.
The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports candidates say limiting EPA powers and repealing the Clean Power Plan are key to the future of Wyoming, the nation’s largest coal producer. For voters, the question may be who will be able to turn rhetoric into action.
According to a study conducted by the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy in 2015, coal generates 14 percent of Wyoming’s gross state product and provides $1.3 billion, or 11 percent, of all revenue collected by the state. Since 2008, state revenue from coal has dropped 17 percent.
North Dakota oil expo comes amid trouble times for industry
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s oil expo and conference kicks off at a troubled time for the industry, with depressed prices and a drop in drilling activity that has hurt both oil companies and the state.
The three-day Williston Basin Petroleum Conference and Expo starts Tuesday in Bismarck and will feature seminars and talks aimed at making it through the rough patch. The event closes with an address by Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness says about 2,800 people are expected to attend the conference, down from a record 4,300 two years ago.
Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Sheri Grossman says the conference is expected to inject about $900,000 into the local economy, down from more than $2 million in 2014.