MTPR

Jeff Fox

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.

Montana could play a significant role in meeting the demand for renewable energy in the Pacific Northwest, according to a new study from the Bonneville Power Administration and the state of Montana.

Wind turbines.
(PD)

Coal powered energy does not behave like wind and solar energy. Economists at the University of Montana say this means extra costs are tacked on to renewable energy as demand for it grows. But renewable energy advocates are critical of this analysis.

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.

Solar panels. Stock photo.
(PD)

Montana’s largest utility provider announced Wednesday it is looking for small-scale renewable energy projects that it’s required by law to buy. But utilities and their regulators in Montana say that requirement is outdated, and that the law should be repealed.

A federal judge in Great Falls Friday said the Trump administration failed to consider the environmental effects of its decision to resume coal sales from federal lands that the Obama administration stopped.
USDA NRCS

Montana coal production is down by nearly a third of what it was last year. From January to the end of April, coal companies in Montana produced 9.6 million tons of coal, 4 million fewer tons than last year.

Federal law requires utility companies like NorthWestern to buy power from small renewable energy projects at the price it would cost the utility company to generate it or buy it from somewhere else.
Flickr user jabzoog

A couple of renewable energy groups are trying to change the conversation about energy policy in Montana.

"The markets we sell electricity to are moving away from coal. Change is coming."

A University of Montana study funded by the state’s largest electric utility predicts dire economic consequences to the state because of the president’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The study is drawing sharp criticism from advocates of alternative energy.

Federal law requires utility companies like NorthWestern to buy power from small renewable energy projects at the price it would cost the utility company to generate it or buy it from somewhere else.
Flickr user jabzoog

Renewable energy advocates are blasting a new proposal from the Montana Public Service Commission.

The PSC is looking to change the rules for which small power production facilities qualify for certain standard rates.

Opponents say the change could significantly hinder expansion of renewable energy production.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce says supporters of the change say it would prevent cost increases for ratepayers.