Montana Public Radio

Colstrip Power Plant

On Tuesday, the Trump administration will abandon the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, but what does that mean for Montana's largest coal-fired power plant?

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

A legal settlement reached Friday could have a big impact on the future of Colstrip – both to the coal-fired power plant there, and the town itself.

Some renewable energy advocates say the settlement means the Colstrip plant could shut down sooner than had been anticipated – maybe as early as 2027, instead of sometime in the 2040s. But that depends on a lot of variables, and Colstrip’s backers say it could stay open for decades.

Failed Legislation Means Uncertainty For Colstrip's Future

May 3, 2017
Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

When Montana's 2017 Legislature adjourned on April 28, Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, ended almost right where he began.

At the session's beginning, he helped draw up several bills that would help his community, which is facing the impending closure of two out of four units at its massive coal-fired electrical plant. By the time lawmakers left the Capitol, many of the bills – aimed at easing impacts on jobs, tax revenues and real estate – were dead.

The big state budget bill landed on Governor Steve Bullock’s desk Monday, one of the final acts of the 2017 legislative session, which was gaveled to a close Friday.

MTPR’s Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney joins us for a look at what Montana lawmakers did and didn’t accomplish since convening in January.

Coal with the town of Colstrip in the background
Amy Martin

An attempt to resurrect legislation written to aid the city of Colstrip when parts of the coal-fired power plant there shut down, failed a long-shot vote Tuesday afternoon.

Democratic Representative Jim Keane pressed lawmakers to blast Senate Bill 338 onto the House Floor for debate after it failed to pass out of a committee last week on a tie vote.

Duane Ankney, the Republican Senator from Colstrip
Mike Albans

The town of Colstrip’s biggest champion in the Legislature walked out of the south entrance of the Capitol building Monday night disappointed.

His proposal aiming to secure the social and economic future of his home town, as parts of the coal-fired power plant there are scheduled to go off line in coming years, failed to pass out of a House committee.

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

Legislation aiming to secure the social and economic future of Colstrip and the community sustained, in part, by the town’s coal-fired plant passed out of the Senate today. Senate Bill 338 received wide bipartisan support as it passed two key votes this afternoon.

Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

As state lawmakers debate bills designed to keep the strip mine and coal fired power plant at Colstrip open as long as possible, a social experimenter in Helena is convening an event aimed at the heart of the debate over whether fossil fuel-based economies should have a place in Montana’s Future. Tate Chamberlin has pulled together activists, politicians, and entrepreneurs to dive deep into thorny questions around coal, jobs, and climate change. I asked him what he has in mind.

State revenue estimates have grown, but lawmakers are taking a cautious approach. Will the Legislature pass an infrastructure bill this session? A mail-voting hearing turns heated. And Sally and Chuck remember Bob Ream, on this episode of 'Capitol Talk.'

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

The speaker of Montana’s House is hoping to extend the life of the coal-fired power plants in Colstrip by offering their operators loans to keep them running for at least the next five years.

Pages