Montana coal power plant closing two units built in 1970s

FILE – This April 28, 2010 file photo shows the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Mont. The Colstrip plant, a coal plant serving utility customers across the Pacific Northwest, has agreed to shut down two of its four units by 2022 under a settlement announced Tuesday, July 12, 2016, with environmentalists who sued over alleged air pollution violations. (AP Photo/Matt Brown, file)

BILLINGS, Mont. — One of the largest coal-fired power plants in the western U.S. will close two of its four units within days as the Montana facility edges toward an eventual total shutdown.

Talen Energy spokeswoman Taryne Williams said Thursday that Colstrip Units 1 and 2 will close by Jan. 5 or as soon as they run out of coal. The plant that started producing electricity in 1975 and employs about 300 people has become increasingly uneconomical amid competition from renewable energy and cheap natural gas.

Williams says the company wants to avoid layoffs and employees for now will turn to decommissioning work that will last through mid-2020.

Categories: National News

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