Daines: New Report Reaffirms Need to Protect Colstrip’s Future in Montana

Closing of Colstrip Plants would lead to loss of nearly 3,300 Jobs, cost Montana $1.2 billion in over 16 Years

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines today called a recent report outlining the devastating consequences of the early retirement of Colstrip Units 3 and 4 a “chilling wake-up call” and pressed for immediate action to help protect the future of Montana’s Colstrip Power Plant.

Today, the Montana Chamber of Commerce Foundation released a report showing that closing Colstrip Units 3 and 4 in the year 2027 is predicted to result in the loss of nearly 3,300 Montana jobs and cost the state $1.2 billion in lost revenue over a 16-year period.

“This report is a chilling wake-up call that demands immediate action,” said Daines. “Closing Colstrip Units 3 and 4 would have a devastating ripple effect on Montana’s entire economy and would destroy the livelihoods of thousands of Montana families. It’s time that Montanans across the political divide unite and act to stop Colstrip from closing.”

Colstrip Units 1 and 2 are set to close in July 2022 due to excessive federal regulations outlined in the Obama Administration’s Clean Air Act and a lawsuit brought by environmental activist groups. With these early retirements already set to impact Montana jobs and the state economy, it is more critical than ever that there is a concerted effort to fight for Colstrip and the future on Montana.

The Colstrip Power Plant is a critical resource to ensuring Montanans have access to reliable, affordable energy. It generates enough power for 1.5 million homes. The power plant is a major source of revenue, generating $104 million in state and local taxes. Colstrip is also a major source of good-paying jobs for Montanans. The power plant employs 350 highly-paid workers and Rosebud Mine employs 380 workers and supports 3,700 jobs across the state.

Daines recently brought Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Neil Chatterjee and Melissa Burnison, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy and Shawn Bennett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil & Natural gas, U.S. Department of Energy to visit the Colstrip Power Plant and Rosebud Mine as part of his 2018 Montana Energy Summit. Commissioner Chatterjee’s visit marked the first time a FERC commissioner had visited the power plant.

Daines will continue working with the Administration, including FERC and DOE, the Colstrip community and other interested parties to pursue whatever means Colstrip up and operating long into the future.

Read full report HERE.

Significant Findings in the Report:

  • Nearly 3,300 fewer jobs than would have been present if the units continued to operate through the 2028-43 period, with average earnings of $79,000 for each lost job.
  • A loss of income received by Montana households varying between $250 and $350 million per year, adding up to a total of about $5.2 billion between 2028-43.
  • Losses in after-tax income for Montana households would total almost $4.6 billion between 2028-43.
  • A decline in population as workers and families migrate to other economic opportunities, growing to more than 7,000 people by year 2043.
  • Would result in a loss of more than $1.2 billion dollars in Montana tax and nontax revenues between 2028-43.
  • Reduced economic activity in every region of the state, due to the higher electricity prices, reduced inter-region trade and lower state government spending that would occur.

Daines’ Actions to Protect Colstrip:

On June 12, 2018, during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Daines pressed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Neil Chatterjee on the importance of the Colstrip Power Plant to Montana and grid reliability.

On February 14, 2018, Daines and U.S. House Representative Greg Gianforte sent a letter to the Washington State legislature urging the body to reject legislation that would tax fuel produced at the Colstrip Power Plant and raise energy costs for Montanans.

On January 23, 2018, Daines highlighted the critical role Colstrip Power Plant plays in all-of-the-above approach to meet energy demands. His remarks were made during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing about the importance of reliable and affordable energy during cold winters.

On January 1, 2017, Daines invited Perry to Colstrip and the Crow Reservation and commended his attention to a letter from Lori Shaw, co-founder of Colstrip United, a grassroots citizens’ group to President-elect Trump imploring his attention to Colstrip.

On October 28, 2016, in a letter to Paul Farr, the President and CEO of Talen Energy Corporation, Daines sought clarification if a decision had already been made to close Colstrip Units 1 and 2 at the earliest opportunity in 2017 and if the disclosure of this decision is being withheld. 

On August 2, 2016, Daines announced that the coal scoping meeting he hosted in Billings generated 68 comments to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for their review of the federal coal program.

On June 21, 2016, Daines held a public meeting in Billings to ensure that the Department of Interior (DOI) hears the voices that will be most impacted by their review of the federal coal program.

On May 17 2016, Daines introduced bicameral legislation to protect Montana coal jobs from the Obama administration’s recent moratorium on new federal coal leases and ensure that states and tribes have a significant voice in any changes to federal coal, oil, gas royalties or leasing policy.

On April 27, 2016, Daines called on Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to tour Colstrip and the Crow Reservation during her upcoming travel to Montana.

In March 2016, Daines stopped in ten-cities across Montana on his statewide tour to promote made-in-Montana energy and the good-paying jobs it supports. Daines’ tour included stops in Laurel, Colstrip, Miles City, Baker, Glendive, Sidney, Great Falls, Missoula, Helena and Butte.

On December 1, 2015, Daines applauded the House of Representative’s bipartisan vote to fully nullify President Obama’s anti-coal regulations that threaten more than 7,000 Montana jobs.

On November 17, 2015, ahead of a vote to fully nullify President Obama’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” Daines took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to join him in standing up for American energy independence.

On October 27, 2015, Daines went to bat for Montana coal jobs by formally introducing measures to block implementation of new rules on coal-fired power plants and calling the Obama administration’s myriad of anti-coal regulations a direct attack on Montana energy.

On May 13, 2015, Daines sponsored The Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA), which holds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accountable and protects states’ rights by requiring the EPA to demonstrate how their proposed regulations could impact each state.