MTPR

Montana Energy Security Act

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.

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.