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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Colstrip Coal-Fired Power Plant Owners In Oregon And Washington State Battle Montana Law

The Colstrip Steam Electric Station pictures on Oct. 2, 2020.
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio
The Colstrip Steam Electric Station pictures on Oct. 2, 2020.

The Pacific Northwest co-owners of the Colstrip coal fired power plant are asking a federal judge for a preliminary injunction to stop the Montana attorney general’s office from enforcing a law they say changes the terms of their private ownership contract.

Judge Susan Watters heard the motion in Billings Friday.

The law, among other things, requires owners’ unanimous consent to close the Colstrip coal-fired power plant. That’s one of the same contract conditions the plaintiffs say co-owners are arguing in arbitration.

Oregon and Washington State-based Electric utilities Avista, Puget Sound Energy, Portland General Electric and Pacificorp are planning their exits from Colstrip due to state clean energy laws that require them to phase out coal-fired generation.

They say the Montana law favors the interests of the state and other stakeholders that want to keep the plant open.

The Montana attorney general’s office took no position on the motion and said it was too early for the utilities to take action against the law because the state isn’t close to enforcing it. Montana judge Susan Watters was still considering the motion as of Friday afternoon. The case is just one of several legal proceedings plant owners have brought since the end of the 2021 legislative session.

Copyright 2021 Yellowstone Public Radio. To see more, visit Yellowstone Public Radio.

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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