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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Sen. Keane: Montana 'got the shaft' In Colstrip Closure Settlement

Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe
The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.

Montana’s Environmental Quality Council heard about a potential legislative response to the pending partial closure of the Colstrip power plant.

A draft bill addressing the uncertain future of the coal-fired power plant is expected early next month.

On July 12 two out-of-state energy companies that own part of the plant announced partial closures will be coming no later than 2022. That’s due to a legal settlement with environmental groups, but the West Coast utilities that buy Colstrip’s power also have a customer base that wants more green energy.

Democratic Senator Jim Keane from Butte is on the EQC. He says lawmakers need to be ready to throw their support behind the Colstrip community.

"Montana has got the shaft at this whole deal. We got absolutely nothing from either Talen or Puget. These  two carpetbagging companies took what they wanted and now they want to leave us high and dry. So this is going to be a big deal during the next legislative session."

Colstrip co-owners Talen Energy and Puget Sound Energy say running the older parts of the plant is no longer financially viable, but cleaner-burning parts will remain open.

In the coming weeks, a bill outlining the company's responsibility to displaced workers, remediation of the plant, and potential property tax relief for the community is expected out a legislative interim committee on energy policy.

Once a draft bill is written it will be open for public comment. The Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee will decide in September whether to propose the bill during the next session.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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