Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Montana’s energy picture was the topic on the Chamber of Commerce hour during Thursday’s KGVO Talk Back show, as CEO Mark Losh introduced his guest, NorthWestern Energy Community Relations Manager for the Missoula Division, Todd Rahr.

Rahr began by describing the variety of energy producing facilities in Montana, including the natural gas fired plants in the state.

The Focus was on Energy on the KGVO Chamber of Commerce Hour

“When it comes down to gas-fired natural gas generation, really, quite frankly, it is a lot cleaner than a lot of people think,” began Rahr. “I mean, people hear ‘natural gas’, and they think ‘methane’, but when it comes down to it, the steam that you see coming out of these things is exactly that. It's steam and its more hydrogen-based than it is methane. So at the end of the day, it is a reliable source. We have an abundance of it, and it's there to not only generate electricity, but heat.”

Rahr said there is a similar energy-producing facility on the verge of starting production right here in Missoula.

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“It just so happens that right here in our community, we've got another generation station that's going to be just like the one over in Yellowstone on the Yellowstone River, over in Laurel, and that is at the University of Montana,” he said. “They are actually going and having their own generation right there on campus, and that is how they are doing it.”

Rahr emphasized the importance of an ‘all of the above’ energy production policy so that when one source goes down, another can fill the state’s energy needs.

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“You know, we saw a severe drop in capacity when it was negative 40 degrees in Kalispell back in January, to the point where we had to go out to the market and pay $1,000 a megawatt, which normally costs about $50 a megawatt,” he said. “Do you know who pays for that? We do, because those are the dollars that go back onto the customers’ power bills.”

Rahr focused closely on the new energy facility based in Yellowstone County.


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“There's 175 megawatts of power that will come out of the Yellowstone generation,” he said. “The other thing to remember about this is that we're going to turn on Yellowstone generation only when we need it. It's not going to be on all the time. It is going to be one of those things that is really a backup because of the lack of reliability with some of these other generation sources, and winter is really when we need it.”

Listen to the entire Chamber of Commerce conversation with Mark Losh and Todd Rahr here.

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Gallery Credit: Stephanie Gull

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