NorthWestern Energy Corp. reported net income of $25.6 million, or $0.70 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2009. This was up from the $21.2 million, or $0.59 per diluted share, reported in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Operating income for the fourth quarter was $49 million, down from the $51 million in 2008. Bob Rowe, the CEO of NorthWestern Energy, said, “While our 2009 net income improved compared with 2008, we recognize that our operating income decreased due primarily to an increase in operating costs related to a reduction in insurance recoveries and litigation settlements, increased insurance reserves and increased labor costs…we also experienced a decrease in our Montana electric transmission revenues and South Dakota wholesale electric revenues.”

The company also improved its performance for the full year, reporting net income of $73.4 million, or $2.02 per diluted share in 2009. The company earned $67.6 million, or $1.77 per diluted share, in 2008.

NorthWestern Energy issued $295 million in two separate issues of mortgage bonds during the year related to its power operations in Montana. The bonds have a term of 10 and 30 years. The company also renegotiated its credit line to increase the amount available to borrow from $200 million to $250 million. The credit facility now expires on June 30, 2012.