Montana Power Completes Sale of Coal Business to Westmoreland

Apr 30, 2001, 01:00 ET from The Montana Power Company

    BUTTE, Mont., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Montana Power Company
 (NYSE:   MTP) announced today the closing of the sale of its coal business to
 Westmoreland Mining LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Westmoreland Coal
 Company (Amex:   WLB) for $138 million in cash.  The operations, which include
 Western Energy Co., Colstrip, Mont. and Northwestern Resources Co., Jewett,
 Texas, produced approximately 19 million tons of coal in 2000.
     Western Energy owns and operates the Rosebud Mine located in the Northern
 Powder River Basin.  Approximately 90% of Western's production is sold under
 long-term contracts to the owners of the four, mine-mouth Colstrip power plant
 units.  In 2000, the Rosebud Mine produced and sold 10.4 million tons of coal.
     Northwestern Resources, which owns and operates the Jewett Mine in Central
 Texas, produced and sold 8.2 million tons last year.  Production from the
 Jewett Mine is sold under a long-term contract to Reliant Energy, the owner of
 a two-unit Limestone power production facility adjacent to the mine.
     "We are delighted to close this transaction, particularly at this time of
 increased attention to the energy needs of our country," said Christopher K.
 Seglem, Westmoreland Coal Company's Chairman, President and CEO.
 "Northwestern and Western Energy are outstanding operations which match
 attractive coal assets with long-term sales contracts that we believe will
 produce sustainable, long-term profits and highly attractive cash flows,
 especially given Westmoreland's ability to apply its NOLs (tax loss
 carryforwards) to the earnings that we expect from Westmoreland Mining.
     "We welcome these employees and look forward to serving the customers of
 Western Energy and Northwestern Resources.  Likewise, we have enormous respect
 for Montana Power Company's decision to focus all its efforts on
 implementation of a forward-looking vision in the telecommunications business.
 We wish them great success."
     Bob Gannon, Montana Power and TOUCHAMERICA's chairman and chief executive
 said, "We are three-quarters of the way toward transforming Montana Power into
 TOUCHAMERICA, our growing broadband information transport company.  We are
 meeting our goals of receiving good, solid values for our energy businesses,
 and of finalizing transactions with well-respected companies.  We wish
 Westmoreland every success in the future."
     For Montana Power, the conclusion of the coal transaction follows those of
 oil and gas and independent power, leaving only the electric and natural gas
 transmission and distribution utility to close later this year.  Some
 $1.3 billion pretax in proceeds from the sale of the four energy businesses is
 being invested in TOUCHAMERICA.
 
     Westmoreland Coal Company, headquartered in Colorado Springs, is the
 oldest independent coal company in the United States.  Westmoreland has
 produced coal in Montana since 1974 through its subsidiary, Westmoreland
 Resources Inc., which operates the Absaloka Mine in the Northern Powder River
 Basin.  In addition to its coal operations, the Company has interests in four
 operating independent power projects held by its wholly owned subsidiary,
 Westmoreland Energy, Inc.  The Company also recently announced that it is
 pursuing the development of a new 500MW lignite-fired power project in North
 Dakota.  The Company also holds a 20% interest in Dominion Terminal
 Associates, a coal shipping and terminal facility in Newport News, Virginia.
 Westmoreland is implementing a growth strategy dedicated to meeting America's
 dual goals of low-cost power and a clean environment through the acquisition
 and development of complementary, niche opportunities in coal, power and other
 segments of the energy sector.
 
     The Montana Power Company is a diversified investor-owned electric and
 natural gas utility that is transforming itself into a national broadband
 information transport company under TOUCHAMERICA, for now its
 telecommunications subsidiary.  TOUCHAMERICA's fiber-optic network, which will
 reach 26,000 route miles this year, employs the most advanced
 telecommunications technology available today.  TOUCHAMERICA and The Montana
 Power Company are based in Butte, Mont.  Information about Montana Power can
 be found at  http://www.mtpower.com.
 
     Forward-looking information is subject to risk and uncertainty.  Portions
 of this document may constitute "forward-looking statements" as defined by
 federal law.  Although the company believes any such statements are based on
 reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that actual outcomes will not be
 materially different.  Any such statements are made in reliance on the "safe
 harbor" protections provided under the Private Securities Litigation Reform
 Act of 1995.  Additional information about issues that could lead to material
 changes in performance is contained in the company's Annual Report on Form
 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
 
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SOURCE The Montana Power Company
    BUTTE, Mont., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Montana Power Company
 (NYSE:   MTP) announced today the closing of the sale of its coal business to
 Westmoreland Mining LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Westmoreland Coal
 Company (Amex:   WLB) for $138 million in cash.  The operations, which include
 Western Energy Co., Colstrip, Mont. and Northwestern Resources Co., Jewett,
 Texas, produced approximately 19 million tons of coal in 2000.
     Western Energy owns and operates the Rosebud Mine located in the Northern
 Powder River Basin.  Approximately 90% of Western's production is sold under
 long-term contracts to the owners of the four, mine-mouth Colstrip power plant
 units.  In 2000, the Rosebud Mine produced and sold 10.4 million tons of coal.
     Northwestern Resources, which owns and operates the Jewett Mine in Central
 Texas, produced and sold 8.2 million tons last year.  Production from the
 Jewett Mine is sold under a long-term contract to Reliant Energy, the owner of
 a two-unit Limestone power production facility adjacent to the mine.
     "We are delighted to close this transaction, particularly at this time of
 increased attention to the energy needs of our country," said Christopher K.
 Seglem, Westmoreland Coal Company's Chairman, President and CEO.
 "Northwestern and Western Energy are outstanding operations which match
 attractive coal assets with long-term sales contracts that we believe will
 produce sustainable, long-term profits and highly attractive cash flows,
 especially given Westmoreland's ability to apply its NOLs (tax loss
 carryforwards) to the earnings that we expect from Westmoreland Mining.
     "We welcome these employees and look forward to serving the customers of
 Western Energy and Northwestern Resources.  Likewise, we have enormous respect
 for Montana Power Company's decision to focus all its efforts on
 implementation of a forward-looking vision in the telecommunications business.
 We wish them great success."
     Bob Gannon, Montana Power and TOUCHAMERICA's chairman and chief executive
 said, "We are three-quarters of the way toward transforming Montana Power into
 TOUCHAMERICA, our growing broadband information transport company.  We are
 meeting our goals of receiving good, solid values for our energy businesses,
 and of finalizing transactions with well-respected companies.  We wish
 Westmoreland every success in the future."
     For Montana Power, the conclusion of the coal transaction follows those of
 oil and gas and independent power, leaving only the electric and natural gas
 transmission and distribution utility to close later this year.  Some
 $1.3 billion pretax in proceeds from the sale of the four energy businesses is
 being invested in TOUCHAMERICA.
 
     Westmoreland Coal Company, headquartered in Colorado Springs, is the
 oldest independent coal company in the United States.  Westmoreland has
 produced coal in Montana since 1974 through its subsidiary, Westmoreland
 Resources Inc., which operates the Absaloka Mine in the Northern Powder River
 Basin.  In addition to its coal operations, the Company has interests in four
 operating independent power projects held by its wholly owned subsidiary,
 Westmoreland Energy, Inc.  The Company also recently announced that it is
 pursuing the development of a new 500MW lignite-fired power project in North
 Dakota.  The Company also holds a 20% interest in Dominion Terminal
 Associates, a coal shipping and terminal facility in Newport News, Virginia.
 Westmoreland is implementing a growth strategy dedicated to meeting America's
 dual goals of low-cost power and a clean environment through the acquisition
 and development of complementary, niche opportunities in coal, power and other
 segments of the energy sector.
 
     The Montana Power Company is a diversified investor-owned electric and
 natural gas utility that is transforming itself into a national broadband
 information transport company under TOUCHAMERICA, for now its
 telecommunications subsidiary.  TOUCHAMERICA's fiber-optic network, which will
 reach 26,000 route miles this year, employs the most advanced
 telecommunications technology available today.  TOUCHAMERICA and The Montana
 Power Company are based in Butte, Mont.  Information about Montana Power can
 be found at  http://www.mtpower.com.
 
     Forward-looking information is subject to risk and uncertainty.  Portions
 of this document may constitute "forward-looking statements" as defined by
 federal law.  Although the company believes any such statements are based on
 reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that actual outcomes will not be
 materially different.  Any such statements are made in reliance on the "safe
 harbor" protections provided under the Private Securities Litigation Reform
 Act of 1995.  Additional information about issues that could lead to material
 changes in performance is contained in the company's Annual Report on Form
 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X23284335
 
 SOURCE  The Montana Power Company