Montana Public Radio

Colstrip Power Plant

 

State regulators Wednesday will start considering whether Montana’s largest electric utility should be able to pass costs on to customers for money it lost in the summer of 2018.

 

Montana’s largest electric utility says another company is hedging in on its plan to purchase a greater share of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant. 

Courtesy of Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Energy Keepers Inc., owned by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, has signed a contract to sell hydroelectric power to a Washington state utility.

 Edit 3/18: The article has been corrected to reflect the full name of the Montana Environmental Information Center.

Montana utility regulators say they need more information from NorthWestern Energy before considering the company’s request to buy an additional share in the Colstrip coal-fired power plant.

NorthWestern Energy building in Butte, Montana.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

State utility regulators have agreed with NorthWestern Energy’s request to block details on its new coal supply contract from becoming public — at least for the moment. This comes as Montana’s biggest utility moves to buy a larger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip. 

 

The state’s largest utility filed its intent to purchase an added share of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant in eastern Montana on Wednesday.

NorthWestern Energy filed paperwork with the Montana Public Service Commission Feb. 6 asking for approval to buy an added 25 percent share of Colstrip Unit 4 from Puget Sound energy for $1. 

Sen. Fred Thomas On Deregulation, Term Limits And Three Decades In The Capitol

Jan 22, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R) - Stevensville
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

Last week, state lawmakers gathered in Helena for the first-ever Legislative Week, a five-day series of training sessions, interim committee meetings, and social gatherings aimed at maintaining connections between legislators during the 20-month break they typically take between legislative sessions.

Montana regulators say they expect to have $400 million in bonds in place by July to cover future cleanup costs at the Colstrip power plant.

 

But state lawmakers expressed skepticism over that time frame after regulators failed to meet previous deadlines to secure the money.

Hearing sessions across Montana over the last month have given ratepayers of the state’s largest electric utility the chance to sound off on the company’s 20-year-plan for sourcing energy. While many people have lashed out against the fossil fuel heavy plan, a minority of supporters in Billings and Colstrip last week stepped up.

 

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.

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