Hardin Coal Plant Faces Closure, Seeks Buyer

Nov 21, 2017

A coal-fired power plant near Hardin may shut down next year unless its owners can find a new buyer.

If the Hardin Generating Station closes next year, that city could lose 30 good-paying jobs and almost a half-million dollars in tax revenue.

Michelle Dyckman is Hardin’s financial officer.

“They are one of our biggest taxpayers in the community and if they go it’s going to affect everybody on their property taxes too,” she said.

The plant’s closure could also cost additional jobs, royalties and revenue on the nearby Crow reservation, where a mine provides more than a half-million tons of coal to the plant every year.

In a letter sent to the Montana Public Services Commission last month, Rocky Mountain Power says the Hardin Generating Station has been bleeding money for the past three years. While the station is the most modern coal-fired power plant in the state, market winds have shifted a lot since it was built in 2006 and coal production is down by nearly 40 percent. So the company has decided to either sell the station or shutter it in the first part of 2018.

Dyckman says she’s hopeful another company will buy the beleaguered plant.

“You can always hope for turnarounds. Miracles do happen,” Dyckman said.

If Rocky Mountain Power cannot find a buyer, they say they will notify city, county and tribal governments well in advance of the plant’s closure.