In response to a study sponsored by the Montana Chamber Foundation and released by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, the Public Service Commission released a statement on the importance of Colstrip to the Montana economy.
“Montana can’t afford to lose 3300 jobs. Keeping Colstrip open is vital to the public interest. We’ve applied that standard in past cases concerning Colstrip, and this study bears that out. I’m personally committed to making sure Montana gets the maximum useful life out of Colstrip units 3 & 4,” said Public Service Commission Chairman Brad Johnson.
The BBER study evaluated the economic impacts of potential early closure for Colstrip electric generating facilities 3 & 4. It concluded that such a premature closure could cost Montana more than 3,000 jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars, including reductions to state revenue.
The Public Service Commission recently voted on the sale of Avista Corp., part owner of Colstrip units 3 & 4, to Hydro One Limited, a Canadian utility company. Over the course of a multi-state approval process of the sale, Avista and Hydro One agreed to an accelerated depreciation schedule that would establish 2027 as an end-of-useful lifes for units 3 & 4. The PSC approved the sale only after attaching conditions designed to restrict that depreciation schedule from leading to premature closure of Colstrip.