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Colstrip power plant co-owners obtain protections from Montana law

Coal stacks at Colstrip Power Plant
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio

Four out-of-state owners of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip received temporary protection Wednesday from a Montana law the companies say inhibits them from making plans to close the plant’s two remaining units.

A federal judge in Billings granted the Pacific Northwest-based owners a preliminary injunction against the law, which would fine owners that attempt to withdraw from or close the coal plant without unanimous consent. The latest order is one part of a larger lawsuit.

Majority owners Avista Corporation, Pacificorp, Portland General Electric and Puget Sound Energy are based in states phasing out coal generation by 2025 and 2030. The companies say the law prohibits them from budgeting or planning for eventual closure of the plant.

Co-owners NorthWestern Energy, headquartered in South Dakota, and Talen Energy, based in Pennsylvania, have said they want to continue their ownership in the facility.

Two of the plant’s four units closed early last year.

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