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NorthWestern Energy pledges net zero by 2050


NorthWestern Energy announced its goal to reachnet zero carbon emissions by 2050

Net zero is a state where greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere are offset by the removal of gases from the atmosphere.

The company plans to reduce its methane and carbon emissions by 30% over the next eight years by investing in new technologies and additional pipeline infrastructure, including leak detection. 

The company says it will continue to invest in hydro, wind and solar resources. NorthWestern Energy says in a statement, “We are sufficiently confident in technological advances that we have committed to only procuring non-carbon emitting generation resources after 2035.”

Other pledges include converting 88,000 street and other lights to LEDs, replacing company vehicles at the end of their usefulness with electric alternatives, investing in more modern and efficient power grids, and strategizing with communities and stakeholders to reach net zero emissions. 

“NorthWestern Energy begins this transition to an even cleaner energy future building on the considerable progress we have already made,” said NorthWestern Energy President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Bird in a news release.

He said NorthWestern's portfolio of electric generation is 56% carbon free, which is higher than the electric utility average of about 40%. NorthWestern's natural gas system has a leak per mile rate that is better than the industry average.

The company said its natural gas plants in South Dakota, and planned natural gas plant in Montana, help support wind and solar projects to meet demand during peak periods like winter and summer.

“We have the tremendous honor to be the stewards of this critical energy infrastructure that delivers safe and reliable energy to our region," Bird said. "Now is the time to raise the bar and start the transition to Net Zero by 2050.”

NorthWestern Energy serves about 750,000 customers with electricity or natural gas in South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana and Yellowstone National Park.  

Megan hosts All Things Considered and the SDPB News podcast.