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Application Period Open For Colstrip Community Transition Funds

The smoke stacks from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station rise over a field in the foreground.
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio
Colstrip coal fired power plant in October 2020.

The first application period for $10 million in transition funds is now open for workers and communities affected by last year’s closures at two of the Colstrip power plant’s four units.

Colstrip residents and volunteers behind the Colstrip Impacts Foundation began accepting applications Monday for the distribution of funds from power plant part-owner Puget Sound Energy of Washington State.

The pool of money is the result of a 2017 rate case settlement between Puget and the State of Montana and will go to affected individuals and organizations, with the bulk of the funds flagged for economic development in the community at large.

Rosebud County Commissioner Ed Joiner is the Colstrip Impacts Foundation Committee Chair and hopes the fund will encourage economic growth.

“Personally, I think that’s our most important thing is to do something economically to help bring in more jobs and stabilize the Colstrip economy,” said Joiner.

The Colstrip Impacts Foundation says its first application period is open from now through Apr. 30 and it will review applications on a quarterly basis.

$2.5 million of the overall $10 million is set aside for workers and other affected individuals for immediate needs. The remaining $7.5 million goes towards a fund to provide continued financial assistance and economic development to the Colstrip and Rosebud County community.

Two of the power plant’s four units closed at the beginning of 2020 and several part owners of Units 3 and 4 have said they will pull out of the operation in coming years as energy policies change in their home states. Oregon plans to phase out coal-fired generation by 2030 and Washington State plans to do the same by 2025.

To date, two of Colstrip power plant’s six part owners have offered the community transition funds. The other is Avista Utilities, also of Washington State.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.