Op-Ed: Colstrip is neither cheap nor reliable for Montanans

When your old car continues to break down, there comes a point when you decide to stop throwing money at it and invest in a newer, more reliable vehicle that will save you in the long run.

Unit 4 at the aging Colstrip coal-fired power plant is now analogous to that old car that needed a valve job last year, a new exhaust system this year, and likely will need another expensive fix next year as well. Unfortunately, Montana’s electricity bill-payers aren’t in the driver’s seat on the financial decisions for the power plant.

The Montana Public Service Commission recently imposed a $32 million rate increase on NorthWestern Energy customers. Over a third of that — $11 million — is to cover the costs of a breakdown at Colstrip Unit 4, which caused it to be shut down for over half a year starting last July.

This is the second time since 2009 that NorthWestern Energy customers have been on the financial hook for breakdowns at Colstrip Unit 4. Yet with little scrutiny, the PSC voted 4-1 to make NorthWestern Energy consumers foot the bill for Colstrip’s outage…

Click here to read the entire Op-Ed

Also recommended:
Public Service Commissioner Travis Kavulla’s Op-Ed in the Independent Record: NorthWestern benefits from corporate welfare
The Bozeman Chronicle’s editorial: PSC must remember it works for ratepayers, not investors