Hamilton lawmaker nudges utilities, private power producers to cooperate

By Freddy Monares/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – A legislative committee is considering a bill that would require Montanans who produce their own energy to include advanced technologies that help utility companies manage that electricity.

Pat Connell

NorthWestern Energy says Senate Bill 1 is moving in the right direction, but … “NorthWestern does not have the communications systems in place that could actually communicate with a smart meter like that,” according to corporate counsel John Alke.

The utility supports the bill conceptually, Alke said Monday, but would have to use a provision included in the bill giving it time to cooperate with said technologies.

Republican Sen. Pat Connell of Hamilton is the sponsor of the bill:

“It’s in the best interest of all generators to recognize that there’s got to be central control of the distribution of electricity,” Connell said.

The Energy and Telecommunications Committee will hear the bill Tuesday.

Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.