Montana Public Radio

Colstrip Power Plant

Colstrip power plant, Colstrip Montana.
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

A plan to allow the state’s largest electric utility to buy a bigger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip is taking a new form. The so-called Montana Energy Security Act of 2019 was introduced Wednesday in the state Legislature.

Hours after senators voted to table a prior proposal to allow NorthWestern Energy to buy more of Colstrip and pass along certain costs to their customers for up to 30 years, a similar idea landed in the hopper.

NorthWestern Releases Plan To Expand Power Generation

Mar 5, 2019
NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn / Montana Public Radio

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — NorthWestern Energy released a plan Tuesday to more than double how much power it can generate for Montana customers during peak demand. But critics worry the company will rely too much on fossil fuels and not enough on renewable resources to complete the expansion.

Colstrip power plant.
John Adams / Montana Free Press

HELENA — A bill would allow NorthWestern Energy to take control of the Colstrip power plant with scaled-back regulatory oversight, and it’s moving through the Legislature at lightning speed.

Montana Power Plant Ash Pond Cleanup Could Cost $700M

Jan 31, 2019
Colstrip power plant, Colstrip Montana.
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Department of Environmental Quality estimates that cleaning up three coal ash ponds at the Colstrip power plant will cost as much as $700 million.

Another Republican joins the 2020 race for governor. Republicans may be open to borrowing money for infrastructure projects — with a catch. A proposal for the state to buy a coal-fired power plant gets a rocky reception. Why passing new taxes could get harder. And a new poll shows the power of independent voters in Montana. Learn more now on "Capitol Talk" with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Corin Cates-Carney.

Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

Lawmakers in Helena are starting to debate whether the state could borrow up to $500 million to buy the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip

The future of the plant is up in the air. The West Coast consumers who Colstrip sends most of its power to are pushing away from coal-powered electricity due to climate change concerns. Coal power is also becoming more expensive relative to electricity generated by natural gas and renewables.

Five To Follow: Week Of Jan. 21 At The Montana Legislature

Jan 18, 2019
Colstrip power plant.
John Adams / Montana Free Press

HELENA — Youth suicide, honoring an officer, coal plants, switchblades, and plastic straws: lawmakers have a lot to discuss during Week 3 of the legislative session. Here are a handful of topics to follow.

Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

Colstrip operator Talen Energy was sued Friday by a former parent company over claims of responsibility for worker pensions and environmental cleanup costs at that coal-fired power plant in southeast Montana.

The suit filed by Pennsylvania-based PPL Corporation in a Delaware court says Talen Montana is without merit trying to recover more than $700 million from its predecessor. 

Montana Mine Expansion Advances Amid Owner's Bankruptcy

Nov 30, 2018
USDA NRCS

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A major coal mine expansion in southeastern Montana received a preliminary green light from state and federal officials on Friday even as the mine's owner remains tied up in bankruptcy proceedings with plans to sell the property.

Officials released an 800-page environmental study of Westmoreland Coal Co.'s expansion of the Rosebud Mine that clears the way for a final decision in coming months.

Colstrip coal mine.
Amy Martin

Westmoreland Coal Company, the Colorado-based owner of three coal mines in Montana, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court on Tuesday.

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