Montana Public Radio

Montana Coal-fired Power Plant Starts Partial Demolition

Aug 5, 2020

Montana's largest coal-fired power plant has begun demolishing equipment as part of a partial closure.

The Colstrip Power Plant started dismantling its Unit 1 and 2 cooling towers in July, the Billings Gazette reported Wednesday.

Units 1 and 2 of the facility – built in the 1970s – were to be retired no later than 2022 as part of a settlement in an air pollution lawsuit against the plant.

Owners Talen Energy and Puget Sound Energy chose to close the units two years before the deadline imposed by a 2016 settlement between Colstrip’s six owners and the Sierra Club in conjunction with the Montana Environmental Information Center.

The work begins a little over a year after owners Talen Energy and Puget Sound Energy said it was not economical to keep running the units, which shut down day-to-day operations in January.

The power plant is located in Colstrip, roughly 120 miles from Billings.

Units 3 and 4 remain in operation, though four of the power plants' owners face coal power bans in Washington and Oregon beginning in 2025. Puget Sound Energy has put its share of Unit 4 for sale. Fellow owners PacifiCorp and Avista Corp. have agreed to limit spending on the units in the next three years.