Study Forecasts Economic Effects of Colstrip’s Early Closure

Loss of plant could hurt economy beyond loss of jobs

By Tristan Scott

HELENA — A study paid for by the Montana Chamber of Commerce says the early closure of the Colstrip power plant would hurt Montana’s economy beyond the loss of jobs at the plant and the coal mine that feeds it.

The study prepared by University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research says billions of dollars would be lost in economic output, tax revenue and wages if all four of Colstrip’s units closed by 2027.

The study assumes that Colstrip’s two newer units could run until 2043, even though most of Colstrip’s six co-owners plan to phase out their coal-generated electricity portfolios before then.

Colstrip’s two older units are scheduled to close by mid-2022. No date has been set to close two newer units, though Colstrip co-owner Avista Corp. has set a 2027 end-of-life depreciation schedule.

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