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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Montana’s Colstrip power plant needs new operator by May 2018

Coal from the Rosebud Mine travels on a 4.2-mile-long conveyor belt to reach coal-fired generators at the Colstrip Steam Electric Station on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Coal from the Rosebud Mine travels on a 4.2-mile-long conveyor belt to reach coal-fired generators at the Colstrip Steam Electric Station on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

BILLINGS – Owners of a coal-fired power plant in Montana say the company that keeps it running wants out within two years.

Pennsylvania-based Talen Energy owns a share of the Colstrip plant and operates the entire facility. Talen officials told the Billings Gazette on Tuesday that the company’s role as operator is not economically viable and the plant’s five owners will need a new manager by May 2018.

Talen spokesman Todd Martin said the decision is part of the company’s effort to end business operations in Montana.

Colstrip Units 3 and 4 are owned by utilities in Washington and Oregon as well as South Dakota’s Northwestern Energy, which is the largest gas and electric utility in Montana. Spokane-based Avista Utilities has 15 percent ownership.

Ownership of Units 1 and 2 is split evenly between Talen and Puget Sound Energy.

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