The Idaho Conservation League and the Endangered Species Coalition have asked federal officials to do a status review that could lead to relisting wolves under the Endangered Species Act in Montana and Idaho. Both states’ management of wolves has been under federal oversight for five years after wolves were delisted a decade ago. The groups claim that oversight needs to be reinstated because the previous five-year monitoring period has been demonstrated to be inadequate. The groups said the changes in wolf hunting laws pose such a serious threat to wolf populations that they trigger a status review requirement as outlined in a 2009 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Dorio’s, an Italian restaurant, has opened on California Avenue in Libby. They are currently serving lunch with plans to begin dinner service soon. Phone is 406-200-3193

Montana’s state parks have recorded more than 1.57 million visitors thru June 2021. This is an  11% increase over the same period last year and a 44% increase over the same period in 2019, according to the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Twenty-seven of the 45 state parks that were open from the start of January through the end of June reported increases in visitation over the same period in 2020. More than half of all visitations occurred in Region 1, headquartered in Kalispell, and Region 4, headquartered in Great Falls.

U.S. Minerals, Inc., admitted recently to violating the Clean Air Act, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. U.S. Minerals has agreed to settle a related civil case regarding violations brought by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). U.S. Minerals pleaded guilty to one count of negligent endangerment, a misdemeanor, under the Clean Air Act. Under the terms of a plea agreement in the criminal case, the government and U.S. Minerals will recommend to the Court that the company be placed on probation for five years and pay a $393,200 fine.

 According to data from the 2020 Census, Montana is changing demographically. Overall the state’s population grew about 10% with 38 counties showing some growth over the past decade. Gallatin County added the most new residents with 29,447 or 33%. Rosebud County lost the most residents with 904 fewer residents than in the 2010 Census. Percentage wise, Liberty County showed the steepest drop in population with a loss of 16% over 10 years. The percentage of white people dropped one percent to 91% of the state’s population. American Indian/Alaskan Native is the largest minority at 9%. The number of Hispanic residents grew by one percent moving up from 3% to 4%.

Sweet Retreat Creamery has opened in Columbia Falls at 734 Ninth St. W. Sweet Retreat is open from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Starbucks coffee shop has opened at the Glacier Basecamp Lodge in Columbia Falls. The new Starbucks will be in the front of the lodge close to the intersection of U.S. 2 and Montana 206. The lodge is a 7-acre property with lodging options there include kitchenettes, family suites and recreational vehicle sites.

At the end of 2020, the average home sale was $352,234 in the Helena market. There were 1,050 homes sold in 2020 with the average days on market being 10. In July of 2019, there were 204 homes for sale in the Helena market – in July of 2021, there were 67 homes for sale.

Aug. 16, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks announced new fishing closures along the Big Hole River in the areas between Dickie Bridge and North Fork. These closures, related to the low volume of waterflow, will remain in effect until Oct. 31, or until FWP says otherwise

The Montana Community Foundation (MCF) announced the addition of two key staff members located in Billings and Havre. Heather Ohs and Jim Bennett join MCF as Philanthropy Officers. They will work with donors and professional advisors to achieve their charitable goals through estate giving and planned giving. Ohs lives in Billings and has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Bennett lives in Havre and has extensive knowledge of relationship management, fund development, and donor stewardship. Jim was most recently the Relationship Manager at Northwest Farm Credit Services.

Volunteers of America Northern Rockies (VOA) and Peak Wellness Center (PWC) have officially joined forces through a merger. The combined organization served more than 15,000 individuals across Wyoming, Montana and Western South Dakota last year.  On September 8, from 12- 1:30 pm Volunteers of America will host a luncheon to celebrate the merger. The Honorable Mark Gordon, Governor of Wyoming, will deliver the keynote address and other speakers will include Jeff Holsinger, CEO of Volunteers of America Northern Rockies and Mike King, National CEO of Volunteers of America Inc.  

On average, single family homes in Gallatin County sold in less than a month during July. Last month also marked the fifth consecutive month in which sellers received more than 100% of their list price in both the single family and condo/townhome markets. The number of new listings decreased 6.4% in July compared to last year, from 219 to 205. Pending sales decreased 27.2%, from 243 to 177. The number of closed sales decreased 37.7%, from 231 to 144. The average days on market decreased 46.8%, from 47 to 25. The median sales price increased 42.1%, from $489,000 to $695,000. Sellers received 100.9% of their list price, up from 99.2% last July. The inventory of available homes decreased 28.6%, from 318 to 227, while the months’ supply of inventory dropped 30.4%, from 2.3 to 1.6.  

Montana Public Radio has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Trust to expand news coverage across western and central Montana over the next two years. MTPR will soon add news reporters in Butte and Great Falls.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the appointment of Ryan Lankford to serve on the FSA state committee in Montana which oversees the delivery of FSA federal farm programs to the state’s agricultural producers. Members of the FSA state committee are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture and are responsible for the oversight of farm programs and county committee operations. Lankford, of Chinook, produces conventional and certified organic small grain, pulse and seed crops. 

Northern Ag Network reports: The Rosebud County Cattlewomen have established an account for cash donations to be given to ranchers affected by the Richard Spring, Rough Draw and Slough Grass fires. In one of the worst fire years on record for Montana, over 2,000 fires have burned more than half a million acres and continue to burn. The Richard Spring fire in Rosebud County has burned 170,000 acres as of this writing).

American Prairie, an organization that is acquiring and collaboratively-managing prairie lands in Montana to establish an ecosystem for wildlife, has increased its enrollment of thousands of acres in the in the Block Management hunter access program managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The organization claims that the move boosts property open to hunters.20 people have drawn a bison permits for a bison hunt and 18 drew permits or elk on the Blue Ridge property. Landowners enrolling in the Block Management program receive limited liability protection, livestock loss reimbursement, and compensation (up to $25,000) to offset potential public hunting impacts.

 Big Sky Care Connect (BSCC), a health information exchange (HIE), is partnering with Health Catalyst Inc. (HCAT), a provider of data and analytics technology and services to healthcare organizations, to provide clinicians throughout Montana access to Health Catalyst’s technology and services to advance data-informed healthcare improvement throughout the state. Before the go-live launch of BSCC in 2020, Montana was just one of two states in the U.S. without a state-designated HIE, a system for improving patient health through sophisticated information technology. BSCC feeds data from healthcare providers across the state into a centralized digital network which serves as a real-time information portal for participating providers, patients and payors in Montana. Healthcare organizations of all types throughout Montana can participate in the network.

By Evelyn Pyburn

The real issue about global warming is the conclusion that government has all the answers. Even if it is true (and it could be, it has been in the earth’s past), before we relinquish power over to government we should ask why. Why should we let government dictate how to deal with a catastrophe – any catastrophe.

How often is it that government has the right answers?

For an easier answer to that question, we could just look at recent headlines where, on one hand, Pres. Biden shuts down the XL Pipeline while giving Russia a nod of approval to move ahead with theirs. 

Why should a single American have to wear a single sweater because of having turned the thermostat down to curb CO2 emissions, when we have a president who so betrays his own citizens? And, what could better demonstrate that politics will always be at play, far more so than any real concerns about climate?

No one should be called on to sacrifice a single thing because of global warming, real or not. But of greater concern then that, is if we do face great peril because the planet warms (or cools) to some great extent, we would certainly be doomed if it were up to government to save us.

The best course of action is to trust to ourselves. Trust to the free market system, to the ingenuity of people and the unanticipated innovations that will surely come if this is truly a problem. Markets and freedom have worked and are continuing to work now.

Look at history. Look at what is happening right now.

Even without concerns of global warming and the threats of government, Americans have been annually reducing, on a per capita basis, our energy usage for over a century. Think about it. Whenever some aspect of business or the market makes a technological improvement or advancement that is what it is fundamentally all about. Every innovation and cost savings is about reducing the use of energy!!! And, the entire history of the US has been one of innovating, reducing costs and increasing efficiencies. Even when we weren’t thinking about it in those terms, we were doing it because it is what makes sense. It is what we do.

NO OTHER COUNTRY has curtailed their carbon emissions more than the US despite all the hysteria about the end of the world. It happens not because of the threats of the Progressives but because it is what a free people do because it makes ECONOMIC sense every bit as much as esthetic or spiritual sense.

Anyone truly concerned about global warming should be urging every country in the world to adopt freedom and free markets so that all countries can participate and be part of the solution. Government bureaucrats and politicians – neither ours nor theirs—will save us.

In fact, no matter what the universe throws at us, we will be able to deal with it better if we the people are free to deal with it. Can you truly envision President Biden saving the planet?

By Evelyn Pyburn

When it comes to housing affordability, Billings is in a better situation than many other areas of the state, but the plight of other areas still impacts Billings.

“It’s better to get ahead of the issue of housing affordability,” said Colten Bryant, in speaking at the Housing Strategy Summit in Billings. Bryant and Dave Dixon of Cushing Terrell presented data on a housing study of a five-county region in mid-southern Montana.

To get ahead of what has become a growing concern in Billings of escalating home prices was exactly the purpose of the housing summit which featured Dr. Pat Barkey of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Barkey said that “high prices matter” when it comes to encouraging economic development, and he attributed much of the problem to regulations, policies and laws that increase the cost of building. “These things impact where, how and whether builders build,” said Barkey.

When it comes to how much local communities regulate the development and construction of housing, Montana is relatively lightly regulated compared to other parts of the country. The degree to which regulations impose costs on housing development is termed “cost burdened,” and in an analysis of Montana cities, Barkey pointed out that western areas of the state are in the upper echelons of being cost burdened. “Yellowstone County is not burdened as much as other counties.”

While a number of factors impact the cost of building a house, “prices are higher than they should be,” in Billings, according to Barkey.

“Prices are pushed upward by bad policy and restrictions placed on ownership,” said Barkey, “and they reflect super charged federal policies that push demand.”

The federal government spends $200 billion annually on programs that subsidize housing, programs like FHA, VA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and 30 year mortgages with no prepayment penalties. They “spike demand,” said Barkey, while local policies tend to restrict supply.

When consumers have to spend more on housing they have less to spend on others things.

High priced housing “is a real impediment to wage workers.” It is difficult to get workers if they can’t afford housing.

“The economy is a story of movement. We move. It defines what America is…If people can’t move because they are locked out by prices you are affecting commerce.”

While it is commonly believed that out-of-state demand, coupled with cheap credit, is driving price growth in most areas of the state, the trend is too new to have much data. In an effort to answer the question of from where is the demand coming, Barkey analyzed “forwarding requests” through the US Postal Service. Although inexact, the data indicates that most of the demand is coming from people in the state moving to other areas in the state, but there are some indications that more in-migration has come from other states over the past year than over previous years.

Barkey also pointed out that residential construction has “cooled off” since 2013. “New home building has slowly declined.” Since 1999 through 2007, there were 7100 new housing units built in Billings. Housing units were being built at a ratio of .06 for each new job in the community – a ratio that has since declined to 1.7 units for each job.

What is the problem?

Barkey answers: high demand, land use policies, regulation and federal policies “that pour fuel on the fire.”

The study conducted by Cushing Terrell, which focused on Yellowstone, Carbon, Big Horn, Stillwater, and Sweet Grass Counties, as well as the Crow Reservation, revealed that most of the housing that is being built is upper end homes, said Bryant.

The study, which was conducted on behalf of Beartooth RC&D, revealed:

–Minimum lot size is a problem.

–The rental market is tight, with very little available for rent in mountainous areas.

–A  need for middle-range priced housing.     

–It is difficult to get workers when housing is so tight.

–There is a need for funding in grants for new housing.

–Wages are not keeping pace with housing prices, which is a national trend.

–It is important to consider housing costs in trying to be economically competitive.

Dixon said that basically the study showed that demand is not being met.

Among the numerous recommendations they made was the implementation of a number of various taxes to subsidize “workforce” housing projects, as well as tax investment financing, or implementation of resort tax, property tax abatements, housing trust funds, and infrastructure assistance, and using city/ county –owned land to make projects more feasible.

And, added Bryant, “enable the market to work.”

Comments came from other participants in the program:

Billings is “extremely well positioned” in terms of meeting future water needs according to Mark Elison, Deputy Director of Montana Department of Natural Resources, who is a hydrologist in the Billings Regional Office. He stated that the city has been very proactive in preparing for future needs, but he added that it is costly.

Deb Sokoloski, with Opportunity Mortgage of Opportunity Bank of Montana, said that access to credit and affordable programs “are there.” The problem is that “wages are not keeping up with the price of housing” and “nothing in the affordable price range is available to buy.” Also, sellers are not accepting offers from buyers who are financing through programs like VA or FHA, which pushes the buyers into conventional loans. For buyers to make 12 offers before getting the 13th accepted “is not out of the norm,” said Sokoloski.

Greg McCall of McCall Homes said that while his company has tried to design and build homes utilizing more efficient and affordable means and materials, their most serious problem is not having “the quantity of tradesman to use advanced technology.” He said that his company could easily use five additional crews. Also, given the undependability of getting building materials, they have returned to an era of ordering in advance and warehousing.

“We are seeing a fear based market,” said Bob Leach of Western Property Management. “Buyers are fearing not being able to afford a home.” In their anxiousness they are foregoing appraisals and inspections. The current average sales price is $343,000. The Billings housing inventory (number of properties listed for sale) is less than one month’s supply, while a more normal level would be a six or seven month supply. Leach noted that demand has been growing over the last 11 years.

The housing situation is such that more young people (ages 18-29) remain living with their parents than at any time in the last 120 years, said Leach. Even after the Great Depression, 48 percent of young people sill lived with their parents, while now the rate is 52 percent.

Leach said that most of the construction of homes is happening in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range. And, “there are more homes on the market over $500,000 than any other category.”

Leach went on to point out that of the 16,000 building permits issued in Yellowstone County over the past ten years, most are being built outside city limits. “We don’t have a lot of growth occurring in the city,” he said, adding, “Rental demand is the highest I have ever seen….vacancy rate is below one percent.”

While businesses need workers, “workers need to be able to afford housing.” He urged schools to “educate to skills rather than sending everyone off to college.”

Rod Lorenz of Montana Real Estate Brokers said that construction is being slowed by the long delays in getting building components and by increased costs, although costs have been coming down. A sheet of plywood that used to cost $10 rocketed to $75-$80, but it has now dropped to about $15. He also commented on the lack of tradesman. Framers are booked 4 to 6 months out. The situation is one that has most impacted the building of $115,000 to $120,000 homes.

Someone else commented that building costs while now dropping, could increase again.

The price of lots have “more than tripled”.

Jeff Junkert, a veteran home builder of the Billings area, underscored how much the cost of lot development has increased. There was a time that a typical lot cost around $15,000 but now costs between $70,000 to $100,000. Having previously built homes outside the city limits in the county, Junkert said, there is “quite a disparity” in cost between building in the city and the county.

Out-of-state developers are coming to Montana and Billings, reported Wayne Nelson, President of Stockman Bank. As a rule, there are not a lot of residential home developers in Billings, said Nelson, noting that it takes a great deal of wherewithal to be a developer. But, “in hot housing markets more people come out of the woodwork who think they can make it work.”

Nelson noted that the sudden increase in material costs caught a lot of builders with price increases on projects for which they had already made bids. “So their profits evaporated,” he said, “some builders took some hits.”

When someone rhetorically asked, “Does anyone here work for nothing?”

Only half jesting, one builder rose his hand and said, “I do.”

 Such are the risks that builders and developers face all the time; it is the reason that as a banker he looks for experience and consistent success records, explained Nelson

Nelson added, “I have never seen anything like this in 40 years of banking.”

Tom Hanel, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Floberg Real Estate, underscored that while most of the summit’s conversation had focused on negatives of the Billings real estate market, most of the people in attendance were making money in the current market. “While affordability of housing is a crisis,” he said, “a tremendous amount of people are prospering because of the market. We are very fortunate that Billings is still an affordable place to build compared to communities as close as Bozeman.”

US consumer confidence has plunged to its lowest point in over a decade according to the University of Michigan confidence survey. Americans are worried about personal finances, unemployment and inflation.

The decline is attributed to a combination of things including the resurgence of the virus but most especially rising inflation rates. The spike in prices for consumers in July were 5.4 percent higher than in June and the highest 12-month spike since 2008. But rising costs for producers are even more dramatic.  The inflation rate increase of production costs is the biggest on record, at 7.8 percent, year over year.

The survey released on August 13 showed that the consumer index was down from July’s reading of 81.2 to 70.2, a level not seen since 2011. The 13 percent slide was one of the sharpest in the past 50 years, exceeded only by an 18.1 percent drop in 2008 and a 19.4 percent fall in April 2020, when economic constraints imposed because of the virus threw the economy into a tailspin.

The decline in confidence was broad and impacted almost every aspect of the population (age, income, education) and in all regions, according to survey director, Richard Curtin.

A concern of economists is that the consumers’ lack of confidence could mean a drop in how much they spend. Consumer spending is considered by some as a major driver of the economy.

Policies that are flooding the economy with extra cash is in large part the reason for inflation and it has thwarted what had been an unprecedented economic recovery, erasing increased benefits and wages for workers. Inflation is putting pressure on the federal government but the response has been to increase the flood of easy money, with the belief of officials that “the current bout of inflation is transitory” and will improve once the labor market has recovered and become more solid.

As many people have moved into Montana from other parts of the country, and also, given the ease of banking on-line, JPMorgan Chase already has an established client base in Montana with whom they want to maintain close ties. To do that the bank has opened their first branch in Montana in Billings Heights at 904 Main Street, Ste. 5.

The plan is to open four branches in the state, according to Claudius Duncan, Chase’s Market Director of Banking for the region. Their second location will also be in Billings and is already under construction near Rimrock Mall. It is projected to open near the end of September.

A third location will be in Helena at North Montana and East Custer, to open in early November.

A fourth branch is planned for Bozeman, upon which construction will begin soon with the goal of opening in the spring.

“We look forward to establishing our roots in Montana, where we’ve been serving credit card and corporate customers for more than a decade,” said Duncan. Montana has seen tremendous growth from employment to housing,” noted Duncan.

The Heights employs 10 employees, of which two are former Montanans who are returning to home ground. Duncan said that there are several employees who will be transferred to Montana to the new locations who are pleased about being able to return to their roots, but most of their employees will be hired locally. Duncan, in fact, emphasized the opportunity they offer for meaningful careers, noting that entry level positions begin at $18 an hour, which include bankers, branch managers, business bankers and financial advisors

Sean Paulauskis will be branch manager in the Heights. “We’re so proud to be able to open our branch doors here and meet the people of Billings,” said Paulauskis. “This expansion is about new relationships, new financial journeys, and better access to our products, services and people in the community, which is going through an important revitalization.” 

The new 3,289 square foot branch in the Heights will provide a full range of services, including checking and savings accounts, business banking, mortgages, investment products and advisors. This expansion adds to the firm’s current base of more than 164,000 consumers and nearly 10,000 business clients in the state of Montana. The bank has been doing business in the state for years serving clients through its auto, credit card and mortgage business.

“When we come to a market, we bring the full force of JPMorgan Chase, our first-class customer service and our commitment to community,” said Duncan.

The Billings branch features innovative technology and a state-of-the-art layout to serve individuals and businesses, creating an inviting environment that will provide a seamless customer experience.

Self-service transaction areas are available including a digital access bar and one interior ATM, one drive-through ATM and one in the exterior of the branch, accessible by debit card afterhours. The branch also features Chase Private Client offices, teller services, a night depository, and free Wi-Fi.

The branch will be open 9-5 Monday through Friday and 9-2 on Saturdays. An ATM in the vestibule and a drive-up ATM will be available 24 hours a day. The branch phone number is 406.371.2613.

In addition to the walk-up options, customers can enroll in online banking at, and download the award-winning Chase mobile app to enjoy the anytime/anywhere convenience of digital banking.

By Evelyn Pyburn

Montana has seen a strong and quick rebound from the economic impacts of the COVID crisis, reported Dr. Pat Barkey, during a mid-year report on the state’s economy, sponsored by the Montana Chamber of Commerce.

Montana is actually rebounding stronger than the economic growth predicted by Barkey prior to the pandemic. It is an “economic consequence that no one anticipated,” said Barkey, who heads the UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research.  “You can hardly see the recession in the numbers.”

Montana’s gross domestic product declined 32.5% in the second quarter of 2020, only to bounce back even higher — by 33.44% — in the third quarter.

Montanans have seen personal income growth, year over year, of 20 percent.

“It is strange to see the economy growing this hard,” said Barkey, who predicted that it would continue to grow just as much throughout the rest of 2021. “We are looking at a big year,” he said, but beyond that it is uncertain. The two troublesome issues Montana faces are work force and housing prices.

In trying to explain what happened over the past year and a half, Barkey said, “We didn’t go through a recession, it was a public health crisis. No one anticipated how the federal government would come out swinging.”

The federal government put $8 billion into the Montana economy. “It was enormous,” said Barkey, who noted that transfer payments as a segment of the economic base,  usually retirement income paid by the federal government, was a record high.

“Government payments made 2020 a boom year.”

Much of what the future holds depends on what the Federal Reserve does. “What they do is really important,” said Barkey, adding, “I think what they are doing is wrong.”  He said he believes the Federal Reserve is paying too much attention to what is happening in the coastal states in terms of unemployment rates.

“The pandemic was a seismic event—a huge negative event, but look at how much people are making. You cannot see the recession in personal earnings. Those who were working were making more money,” said Barkey, while noting that there were those – mostly in the lower income categories –who were not making more and who were more negatively impacted.

There was a three percent decline in employment the last half of 2020, yet wage growth was “respectable.”

Job losses during the COVID shutdown through mid-2020 were seen in every industry category except for agriculture and government. For the whole year of 2020 job losses were experienced in all industry sectors except construction, manufacturing and government. During that same period, however, wages grew in every industry sector except for accommodations /food and mining, which declined substantially. Wages especially grew in the finance and healthcare categories.

Montana is coming out of the “public health crisis” with a high demand for labor, a demand that exceeds supply. But that is a situation that was developing in the state prior to the COVID crisis, pointed out Barkey. With an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent, Montana is for all practical purposes at full employment.

One disparity that has emerged in the after-COVID shutdown is the participation level of women in the labor market. “Those who were laid off the most were women,” said Barkey, and they are having a harder time getting back into the economy.  Prior to COVID-19, women made up about 20 percent of unemployment claims every month. Since the beginning of COVID, women have accounted for more than 50 percent of unemployment claims.

Some of the reasons for this remain a bit of a mystery, said Barkey.

Since February 2020, Montana has lead the nation in the number of job openings – increasing by almost 65 percent through July 2021.

An indicator that the market is good for labor is the level of voluntary “quits.” When workers voluntarily quit a job, it is because “they have a high degree of confidence” in being able to get another. Nationwide, there is an increasing number of “quits” as people move to different locations and find jobs that make more money. “Boomers” – the baby boom generation that is of retirement age – are quitting, “and taking their taking their pay with them”, which depresses the wage growth trend.

Wage growth has been “tilted” toward entry level jobs, which is a good thing.

Bioscience, technology and manufacturing are the three industry sectors shining the brightest in the state’s recovery.

Sharon Peterson, executive director of the Montana Bioscience Alliance, as part of a panel discussion, said “The bioscience industry in Montana has been a well-kept secret.” It poses great opportunity in Montana for the future in providing more jobs and economic growth.

The cost of housing is impacting the ability for businesses to hire in some areas of the state.

Such was the experience of Zoot Enterprises, a company represented during the Economic Seminar, by Tony Rosanova, President/CTO. Zoot, located near Bozeman with a facility in Billings, creates systems that process data that allow companies to make better decisions. While Zoot complied with the same COVID shutdowns, they experienced a rapid increase in demand for services after reopening as their clients sought to innovate more than ever before.

In hiring to meet that increased demand, Rosanova said it was difficult because people can’t afford housing in Gallatin County, because of that, the software company’s most recent expansion of 20 new employees was done through their Billings facility, where housing is more affordable.

Commodity prices for the state are strong, except for agriculture, which is a “sad story,” mostly because of the drought. “Government support payments will be a life line” for agriculture, said Barkey.

Bakken Oil production has dropped significantly. North Dakota is called the “sleeping giant of the energy industry,” said Barkey, “That’s not what we would have called it a few years ago.”

In 2019 California increased their importation of power by 20 percent and it is the largest net electricity importer of any state.

Montana was still a net exporter of power before the closure of Colstrips 1 & 2.

Barkey expressed grave concern about the situation of power supply for Montana, given that NorthWestern Energy is 645 megawatts short of being able to meet energy needs during peak use periods.

MDU expects to be “resource efficient”.