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Colstrip coal plant in Montana agrees to close 2 units

Colstrip Steam Electric Station power plants 1, 2, 3 and 4 are seen in 2013 near Colstrip, Montana. The plant, which serves utility customers in the Pacific Northwest, has agreed to shut down two of its four units by 2022 under a settlement announced Tuesday with environmentalists who sued over alleged air pollution violations.
Colstrip Steam Electric Station power plants 1, 2, 3 and 4 are seen in 2013 near Colstrip, Montana. The plant, which serves utility customers in the Pacific Northwest, has agreed to shut down two of its four units by 2022 under a settlement announced Tuesday with environmentalists who sued over alleged air pollution violations. AP

The Colstrip coal plant in Montana that serves utility customers across the Pacific Northwest — including Puget Sound Energy customers — agreed to shut down two of its four units and limit how much it pollutes in the meantime under a deal with environmentalists.

A consent decree detailing the partial shutdown of the 2,100-megawatt plant by 2022 was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Montana. It needs approval from federal officials before becoming final.

The move follows a wave of coal plant closures that have transformed the utility industry in the United States.

The Sierra Club and Montana Environmental Center sued Colstrip’s owners in 2013 over alleged air pollution violations.

The plant employs about 360 people. Puget Sound Energy, which co-owns the plant, says most of those jobs likely will be retained as Colstrip’s other units continue operating.

PSE President Kimberly Harris said low natural gas prices made the plant less economical. She said that without the settlement, Colstrip could have been forced to purchase costly pollution controls.

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