MTPR

Colstrip Power Plant

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.

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, 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.  


This week our topics from the 2017 Montana Legislature are:  coal and prohibiting state courts from considering foreign laws.  

Guests:  Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, and Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell.


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.

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

The state senator from Colstrip is asking lawmakers in Helena to consider a bill requiring a more detailed cleanup plan for when two coal-fired electric generators in his town shut down.

On Monday, Republican Duane Ankney proposed the first of several bills he is bringing forward this legislative session directed at the future of Colstrip

The "Capitol Talk" panel recaps the State of the State, talks about the state of the budget, and notices that both Amanda Curtis and Greg Gianforte are trying to tie their congressional campaigns to Donald Trump. Can the enthusiasm on display at the women's march be translated into real action for change? Sally Mauk and Rob Saldin discuss the week in Montana politics on this episode of "Capitol Talk."

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.

The priorities Governor Steve Bullock promoted last night during his 3rd State of the State Address were familiar themes from past speeches and from last fall’s re-campaign.

“Fiscal responsibility. Education. Infrastructure. Job Creation. Caring for others,” Bullock summarized.


Gov. Bullock entering the House chambers before his State of the State speech Tuesday, January 24, 2017 in Helena.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

Gov. Steve Bullock outlined his goals for the 2017 Legislature Tuesday during his third State of the State address, including a responsible state budget, infrastructure, business growth and education.

Colstrip Closure, Water Rights On The Agenda At The Montana Legislature

Jan 3, 2017
Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

The Colstrip Power Plant and water rights are shaping up to be big natural resource issues for the 2017 Legislative session.

Groups To Rally For Alternative Energy In Butte

Oct 7, 2016
A 2005 state law requires Montana utilities to buy a total of 75 megawatts of energy from small-scale, locally owned producers of renewable electricity from wind, solar, and hydro sources.
(PD)

On Monday, environmental advocates will protest in front of NorthWestern Energy’s Montana headquarters in Butte. The group 350 Missoula and others say NorthWestern isn’t moving quickly enough towards renewable sources of electricity. The rally is scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. Monday at Emma Park in Butte, followed by speakers from the Montana Environmental Information Center and other groups in front of NorthWestern Energy’s headquarters.

President Donald Trump Thursday ended a key Obama-era coal mining regulation designed to protect waterways from coal mining waste.
Flickr user oatsy40 (CC-BY-2)

U.S. Department of Energy officials held a briefing with the governor today on options for carbon capture in ensuring the future of Colstrip’s coal-fired plant.

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.

Coal ash waste at the Colstrip power plant.
Courtesy Alexis Bonogofsky - Montana Environmental Information Center

Three environmental groups settled their lawsuit from 2012 over coal ash pollution at the Colstrip power plant on Thursday.

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.

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.

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