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Colstrip Montana

Failed Legislation Means Uncertainty For Colstrip's Future

May 3, 2017
The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

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.

Republican Sen. Duane Ankney from Colstrip says the bill isn’t supposed to penalize the companies for leaving, but to help set expectations for when they do.
Mike Albans

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.

The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

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.

Colstrip power plant, 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.

Legislators are considering legislation to help the citizens of Colstrip and the state of Montana weather the pending closure of 2 coal fired power plants by requiring the plants owners compensate the community for the economic loss.  


The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

After announcing a soon-to-be-released plan to help keep parts of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip open, Montana’s Speaker of the House now says that plan is still up in the air. During the GOP rebuttal to Governor Steve Bullock’s State of the State address in January, Speaker Austin Knudsen said he would be introducing legislation in the upcoming days to help keep Colstrip Units 1 and 2 open for as long as possible.

Duane Ankney, the Republican Senator from Colstrip
Mike Albans

Last July, the operators of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant settled a lawsuit with environmental groups, agreeing to shut down the plants two older electricity generators by 2022.

As the community of Colstrip tries to figure out an uncertain future, their Republican Senator Duane Ankney is proposing legislation aiming to provide some security for his town.

Colstrip power plant, Montana
Courtesy Montana AFI-CIO

Parts of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip will shut down by 2022. But there’s a chance that the plant’s operators could pull out even sooner, creating an unforeseeable future for the community the power plant employs. Lawmakers in Helena say they have a plan that will help Colstrip stay open for as long as possible.

Colstrip power plant, Montana
Courtesy Montana AFI-CIO

Two bills introduced today in the Montana Legislature hope to bring some stability to the community and workers in Colstrip. Both were a result of bipartisan work done in the legislative interim, after plant owners settled a lawsuit with environmental groups, agreeing to shut down two of Colstrip’s four units by 2022.

Colstrip Seeks To Limit Water Use To Help Coal Plant

Aug 23, 2016
The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Residents of an eastern Montana city are being asked to limit their water use so one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the western U.S. can continue to safely operate.

The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

Montana’s Environmental Quality Council heard about a potential legislative response to the pending partial closure of the Colstrip power plant.

Gov. Bullock Rallies Missoulians At New Campaign Office
Edward O'Brien

Governor Steve Bullock recently rallied his supporters in Missoula. His message was clear; there’s a lot at stake in his re-election campaign against Republican challenger Greg Gianforte.

Sen. Duane Ankney (R) SD20
Montana Legislature

Today Montana lawmakers agreed to draft legislation aimed at getting more details about the future of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant. A legal settlement filed this week says two of the plant’s four boilers will be shut down by 2020.

Coal with the town of Colstrip in the background
Amy Martin

What is going to happen to Colstrip? That was the question Thursday as state legislators questioned companies that agreed to shut down two of the four coal-burning units of the Colstrip electricity plant.

The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

By July 1, 2022, Units 1 and 2 of the coal-fired plant in Colstrip will close. The plant's owners agreed to do so to settle a lawsuit with environmental groups. The settlement was announced today.

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

It’ll take a little longer than expected to settle at least one lawsuit – perhaps two – involving the coal-fired power plants at Colstrip. Two environmental groups argue Colstrip’s pollution control equipment could be inadequate.

Corin Cates-Carney

Montana Republicans met today at the Missoula Hilton Garden Hotel for day one of their party’s biggest fundraising event of the year. They spent the day teeing up issues for tomorrow’s vote on the party’s platform. 

Governor Bullock Brings Energy Roundtable To Colstrip

May 31, 2016
Colstrip power plant, Montana
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

Governor Steve Bullock brought his energy round table discussion to Colstrip to talk about Montana’s energy future. Several citizens of Colstrip were more concerned about their economic future.

Coal with the town of Colstrip in the background
Amy Martin

On Monday the operator of the Colstrip power plant said it wants out of its contract to run the coal-burning facility. Pennsylvania-based Talen Energy owns part of the plant and operates the entire facility. The company says it is losing millions of dollars there. Governor Bullock talked with MTPR’s Corin Cates Carney Wednesday.

The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

Tonight on MontanaPBS, producer Beth Saboe takes a look at the uncertain future of the town of Colstrip, as big changes are rocking the coal industry around the world and in Montana. She joins us now to talk about her film, "The Future of Colstrip."

Wind turbines
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."

Gov. Steve Bullock (file photo)
Josh Burnham

Tuesday, Governor Steve Bullock announced he’s convening what he calls a “working group” to talk about potential changes in ownership of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant. Or at least three of its four generating units. We talked with Gov. Bullock about his plans for this Colstrip working group.

CHS Refinery Depends On Colstrip For Electricity, Manager Says

Mar 21, 2016
CHS Refinery Manager Pat Kimmet (L) gives Senator Steve Daines, R-MT, a tour of the Laurel facility.
Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

Senator Steve Daines is spending the next two weeks highlighting the energy needs of Montana businesses, and advocating for policies that protect the state’s fossil fuel industries, including coal interests that are facing significant challenges. Daines kicked off what he’s calling his Montana Energy tour today with a stop at the CHS refinery in Laurel.

Colstrip power plant, Montana
Courtesy Montana AFI-CIO

Coal ash ponds have leaked contaminants into ground and surface water surrounding eastern Montana’s Colstrip plant for decades. Three environmental groups have sued the state of Montana for dragging its heels on the clean up effort.

On this episode of "Campaign Beat:" The impact of Justice Scalia's death on the Clean Power Plan lawsuit and Montana's governor's race; the political impact of out-of-state control over Colstrip's future; new revelations of "dark money" spending, and the upcoming campaign finance trial of Rep. Art Wittich.

Washington State Senate Passes Bill Involving Colstrip Plants

Feb 18, 2016
Colstrip power plant as seen in the early 1980s.
David T. Hanson (CC-BY-SA-2)

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A bill that would authorize the state's largest utility to create a fund to pay for the eventual shutdown of two coal-powered electricity plants in Montana easily passed the Washington State Senate on Wednesday.

Montana Legislative Panel Suspends Work On Clean Power Plan

Feb 17, 2016
Colstrip power plant, Montana
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana legislative subcommittee has halted its work on tracking the federal Clean Power Plan. The move follows last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision that put the plan on hold.

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