Puget Sound Energy, part owner of Colstrip Units 1 and 2, entered into a legal settlement last year to shut down the coal-fired generating plants in July 2022.

On Wednesday, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox filed for intervention on behalf of the State of Montana before the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.

“That commission is eventually going to be holding a hearing on a request from Puget Sound Energy essentially to escrow money to eventually pay for the costs of closure of Colstrip Units 1 and 2,” Fox said. “There has already been and will continue to be a significant impact on the people of Montana and specifically on the economy of the Colstrip area. Looking forward, it will be an even deeper impact on utility rates and other things down the road.”

Fox said the state has intervened so that Montana can have ‘full-party’ status and be able to advise this commission about the impacts of their decisions on Montana. He said the Montana legislature is also working to determine the economic impact of the closure of the generating units.

“That information, when it becomes available, we will make available to the commission so that they know and understand how expensive this is going to be, especially to the rate-payers in the state of Washington who ultimately will pay for the premature closing of Colstrip units 1 and 2,” he said.

The petition for intervention states, “Many thousands of Montana residents will be economically impacted, directly or indirectly, by the closure of the Colstrip Units. In addition to anticipated job losses, the revenue generated by the Colstrip Units, which is taxed by Montana, funds public schools, libraries, parks and regional water systems. Thus, Montana has a direct and substantial interest in the economic issues to be addressed in the…proceeding. In addition, Montana has a direct and substantial interest in ensuring the full costs of decommissioning and remediation attendant to closing the Colstrip Units are covered by PSE, in keeping with the high value Montana residents place on their environment.”