While reading Northwestern Energy's Distribution System Infrastructure Plan (addressing needed upgrades to their electric and gas systems in MT), this paragraph on the last page was interesting -

"NWE is in a somewhat favorable position – for now. It may already be too late for some utilities for whom the status of disrepair, the costs of catch up and the logistics of widespread infrastructure investment are unmanageable. Others are at the edge, where costly programs and extensive new construction are necessary – now. Still others share the many common problems, but have the time to do it right. We believe NWE is in the latter category, but that is a privilege that will not be reserved for long."

While I show a lot of old stuff on Otter Tail's and MDU's grids, I would say that both companies keep an watchful eye on the condition of their system and have been proactive over the years in staying on top of those portions of their system that need repairs if not outright replacement. I would say NWE-SD (NWPS) and NSP would be about in the same boat as NWE-MT (Montana Power) in having aging infrastructure but are starting to make the necessary investment to catch up with needed work on the oldest parts of their systems.

I wonder which utilities NWE was speaking of when they said "It may already be too late for some utilities..."? I know Lineman#80 and electrical 2602 have both shown some seriously run-down lines around St. Louis and Detroit...