Montana Public Radio

Colstrip Montana

 

Two of the Colstrip power plant’s four units ceased operation last week. Residents in Colstrip voiced shock and sadness Saturday about the long-planned but still surprising shutdowns.

Montana Coal Power Plant Closing Two Units Built In 1970s

Jan 3, 2020
Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — One of the largest coal-fired power plants in the western U.S. will close two of its four units in coming days as the Montana facility edges toward an eventual total shutdown.


Amid constantly changing closure dates for a power plant majority owned by out-of-state companies, a town that found success through coal is coming to terms with the plant’s partial retirement. Kayla Desroches spent a day in Colstrip in southeast Montana to talk with some of the people who live and work in the community.

KEVIN TREVELLYAN / MONTANA PUBLIC RADIO

Rich Trumka, the president of the country’s largest union federation, the AFL-CIO, was in Montana for the state’s convention in Missoula last week. The federation represents many workers in Montana’s troubled coal industry. 

Trumka is a third-generation miner. The Pennsylvania native can’t accept that workers, like those in Colstrip, are getting squeezed out of their jobs.

Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

Units 1 and 2 of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip will permanently close at the end of this year. Plant operator Talen Energy made that announcement in a press release Tuesday, saying the company has been unsuccessful in making the units economically viable. Talen says the plant’s newer units, 3 and 4, will remain open.

A party-line vote late in a Montana House committee Friday is advancing the controversial bill that gives NorthWestern Energy incentives to buy a larger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

A party-line vote late in a Montana House committee Friday is advancing the controversial bill that gives NorthWestern Energy incentives to buy a larger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip.

But the so-called Montana Energy Security Act is moving to the House floor for debate significantly changed.

Sen. Duane Ankney (R) - Colstrip.
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

The bill to reauthorize Medicaid expansion in Montana failed to pass today when the state Senate locked in a 25-25 tie.

Republican co-sponsors of the policy are withholding their support in a play for leverage over other political goals, including the passage of a controversial bill aimed at keeping the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip running.

Tonight on Capitol Talk: The state budget sails through the Legislature; Gov. Bullock says he's "skeptical" about the "save Colstrip" bill; a Colstrip senator launches a vitriolic video slamming press coverage of the Colstrip bill; Attorney General Tim Fox opposes ending Obamacare; and three more candidates enter the races for governor and U.S. House. 

A report released today by The Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) says a more thorough cleanup of the coal ash ponds at the Colstrip power plant will create more jobs and permanently stop groundwater contamination.
Northern Plains Resource Council

A report released today by The Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) says a more thorough cleanup of the coal ash ponds at the Colstrip power plant will create more jobs and permanently stop groundwater contamination.

NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn / Montana Public Radio

A controversial bill to change the state’s regulation of NorthWestern Energy in a potential deal at Colstrip cleared a critical vote Wednesday in the Senate. 

The proposal encourages the state’s largest monopoly utility to increase its operating share of energy production at one of the coal-fired power plant's four units.

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