- The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has opened an investigation into the costs to close two Puget Sound Energy coal generators.
- The commission will also look at the cost of environmental remediation “and other activities” associated with shuttering the decades-old facilities.
- Colstrip Units 1 and 2 are jointly owned by Bellevue-based PSE and Talen Energy Corp.
Puget Sound's two coal-fired plants in Montana have been running since the 1970s, and regulators say the time may be nearing to shut them down. But shuttering the facilities will mean costs, and so the WUTC has opened an investigation into just how much it would cost customers.
“We want to be sure we know what costs Puget Sound Energy’s customers may face when the day comes for these older units to close,” said UTC Chairman David Danner. “We need to know that money is set aside to comply with environmental regulations and meet other obligations.”
According to regulators, PSE has indicated its intention to transition to greener energy and the state's legislature this year considered bills to “establish a process for PSE to petition the UTC for approval of plans to finance the closure of Units 1 and 2 through low-cost bonds.” The measure didn't pass, but it led the commission to focus on the costs of closing the plants.
Argus Media points out that the plant's owners don't want to shut down the plant, despite growing political pressure. Talen owns more than 500 MW at the facility, out of about 2,100 MW, and has indicated it would prefer buying utilities' share of capacity if the abandon the plant rather than shutting it down.
Montana lawmakers attempted to protect the plant last year by imposing a fine on companies that close coal plants, but the legislation was rejected by Washington.