Talen Energy plans to keep operating Montana Colstrip plant
In a reversal, Talen Energy, the operator and part owner of the 2,100 MW Colstrip plant in Montana, says it plans to keep the coal-fired station in operation for the foreseeable future, according to multiple media reports.
Talen last year said the Colstrip plant, which it owns with Puget Sound Energy, Portland General Electric, Avista, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy, was losing money to the tune of $30 million annually
The two oldest units of the four unit plant are scheduled to close pursuant to the settlement of an environmental lawsuit. In 2030, the newer units, 3 and 4, are in jeopardy because an Oregon law requires PacifiCorp to divest its coal fired generation by 2030.
The Colstrip plant has been at the center of a legislative tug-of-war between Montana and Washington for the past two years. Washington lawmakers and utilities wanted to shutter operations to meet emissions goals, while Montana stakeholders said doing so would jeopardize the town of Colstrip.
As a result,Talen Energy said it would cease operating the plant, telling Montana officials they needed to find a new operator. At the time, state officials said Talen's exit would not factor into Colstrip's future operations. Now the operator reversed course and plans to operate the plant. Talen did not give a reason for its reversal or say how long it would continue to operate the plant.
In March, the Montana House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to legislation that would authorize a $10 million annual loan to Talen Energy that would be used to keep running two units of the coal plant slated to close in 2022. It's unclear whether Talen accepted that loan on condition of staying.
A consortium led by PPL Corp., which is based in Pennsylvania, bought the Colstrip plant in 1998. PPL spun off its generating assets and combined them with generating assets owned by private equity firm Riverstone Holdings to become Talen Energy in 2015. In December 2016 purchased the 65% of Talen stock it did not already own, turning Talen into a privately owned company.
- The Spokesman-Review Operator of Montana’s Colstrip coal plant will continue to run it
- The Billings Gazette Talen changes Colstrip exit plans, plans to stay for foreseeable future
Follow Peter Maloney on Twitter