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Proposed Colstrip Steam Election Station Sale Falls Through

Colstrip power plant
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio
Colstrip Steam Electric Station

A proposed sale at the Colstrip coal-fired power plant has fallen through after owners say they faced barriers to the agreement.

Washington state’s Puget Sound Energy said Thursday it will no longer sell its 185 megawatt share in Colstrip and part of its transmission system to Montana owner NorthWestern Energy and plant operator Talen Energy.

NorthWestern Energy announced last year it would buy Puget’s 25 percent share in Unit 4. NorthWestern’s share of the agreement dropped to 12.5 percent, or 92.5 megawatts, after Talen Energy officially joined the sale in April.

Puget and NorthWestern voiced disappointment in statements Thursday. NorthWestern cited barriers from Washington state staff and Montana regulators.

Washington state regulatory staff had expressed doubt about the cost benefit of the agreement to Washington consumers and believed the state could still use Colstrip’s transmission infrastructure for future access to renewable energy.

NorthWestern, which has stressed its limited energy generation capacity, calls the cancellation a loss for its customers.

Puget says the sale could have been a chance for its customers to transition away from coal as Washington State legislation requires it to do by 2025. It also said the sale would have removed ongoing operating and capital costs connected with Unit 4.

Talen did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

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