MTPR

Colstrip Scores $10 Million To Transition Away From Coal

Dec 6, 2017

Regulators in Washington state have approved a major settlement with a utility that owns part of the Colstrip power plant. It includes $10 million to help Colstrip transition away from a coal driven economy.

Colstrip’s biggest champion in the Montana Legislature says has mixed feelings about the money.

Colstrip’s Republican Senator Duane Ankney says he’s glad the money from Puget Sound Energy is coming, but it’s not enough.

"When you’re looking at $10 million, that’s a hell of a lot of money. But when you’re looking at the entire economic destruction of a whole community, that’s pennies."

Ankney says it’s still unclear how and when the money will be dispersed in Colstrip.

During this year’s legislative session Ankney fought for a bill that would require the operators of the coal-fired power plant to pay the community when the companies pull out of Colstrip. That proposal failed after lawmakers said it would hurt Montana’s business climate.

The settlement approved this week does not set a closure date for Colstrip’s two new and larger units. However, some environmental groups say this signals that those units could shut down by 2030.

Colstrip supporters say the plant could stay open more than decade longer.

The power plant’s two older units are scheduled to close by 2022.