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Power plant analysis looks at costs of providing city of Colstrip with water

colstrip power plant.jpg
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio/File photo
The Colstrip coal-fired power plant in October 2020.

The owners of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant last week submitted a study to the state analyzing what it would cost to provide the nearby community with drinking water if the plant closes.

The 500-page document lays out different scenarios, operating costs and upgrade needs of the infrastructure that connects the community of Colstrip to the power plant it relies on for drinking water from the Yellowstone River.

Colstrip Mayor John Williams says the document establishes information the city didn’t have before. He says it’s a useful tool, but uncertainties remain about the city’s future access to water infrastructure if the coal-fired plant closes.

“What are their legal obligations for the continuance of a water supply for the city of Colstrip? That’s a big question that is out there,” Williams said.

Four of the companies that co-own the power plant are legally required to transition away from coal over the next few years. Meanwhile, co-owner NorthWestern Energy intends to remain at Colstrip for the foreseeable future.

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