“Affordable power generated in Colstrip helped build Seattle’s big tech economy, but now woke, overzealous regulators in Washington state are punishing the people of Colstrip with their anti-coal agenda,” Gianforte said.
To be clear, it wasn’t regulators who imposed the 2025 coal power plant. The 2019 Washington Legislature passed the Clean Energy Transformation Act, which was then signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee. The state’s utilities are required to transition to non-carbon emitting energy resources by 2045. One of the first steps is an end to servicing Washington customers with coal power by Dec. 31, 2025.
With no Washington use for coal power beyond five years, and a similar Oregon ban on coal power beginning in 2030, Colstrip’s utility owners with customers in those states began questioning repairs at the plant. There has been reluctance to spend money on repairs that aren’t necessary to keep the plant running beyond 2025.
The contract provision Montana’s government intends to nullify states that maintenance decisions at the power plant are decided by a majority vote of the owners. The overwhelming majority of the plant ownership is in Washington and Oregon. Puget Sound Energy is an original power plant owner, dating back to the 1970s. Avista Corp., Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp have been power plant owners since the construction of Colstrip Units 3 and 4 in the early 1980s. Combined, the businesses own 70% of the power plant.