- Talen Energy, operator of the Colstrip coal-fired plant in Montana, plans to stop operating the plant by 2018, telling five of its owners earlier this week they will need to look for a new operator, the Billings Gazette reports.
- The plant is no longer "economically viable," the company told the owners, and plans to exit operations by May 23, 2018.
- Talen took over operations from operator PPL Montana after parent company PPL Corp. spun off its assets, which included a stake in the 2,094 MW Colstrip plant.
Talen Energy folded another wrinkle into the months-long debate over the future of the Colstrip power plant this week, notifying owners it will cease operating the plant in 2018 due to doubts about its economic future.
“This decision is part of Talen Energy’s overall strategy to conclude our business operations in the state,” spokesperson Todd Martin told the news outlet. “Talen Energy will continue to work with all of the Colstrip stakeholders to create the best possible outcome for employees, customers and the community as we facilitate the successful transition to the new operator.”
The Gazette reports that Talen CEO Paul Farr said earlier this month that the company will lose millions operating Colstrip as low natural gas prices push out the economic viability of coal-fired generation.
Officials have said Talen's exit from operating won't factor into Colstrip's future operations. The company was required to give two years notice if it wanted to stop operating the plant, and the announcement didn't come as a surprise to Montana officials.
Talen owns half of units 1 and 2, with the older halves owned by Washington utility Puget Sound Energy. Other owners include Avista Corp., another Washington utility; Oregon utilities Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp as well as NorthWestern Energy, a South Dakota-based utility which is also Montana's biggest energy provider.
The beleagured coal plant has been in a high-stakes tug-of-war between Washington state and Montana stakeholders with differing views over the plant's future. Washington utilities and lawmakers have pushed to close operations at the Colstrip to meet emissions goals, while Montana stakeholders argue closing the plant will have adverse economical impacts on the town of Colstrip, which houses the plant and coal mine supplying it.