Colstrip Units 1 and 2 retirement final, 5 million tons of #carbon pollution to end

Puget Sound Energy and Talen Energy reached a historic agreement with Sierra Club and Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) to retire the oldest and most financially risky coal-burning units at the Colstrip coal plant in Colstrip, Montana. These two units -- which were built in the 1970s and lack state-of-the-art controls -- are part of the largest, dirtiest coal plant west of the Mississippi. This opens a huge opportunity to replace this power with clean, renewable energy from Washington and Montana.   Under the agreement, which was filed with the District Court in Missoula, owners Talen and Puget must retire these two units by no later than July 2022. This retirement will lead to the reduction of 5 million tons of carbon pollution each year, which is equivalent to 1 million cars being permanently taken off the road.   This decision marks an opportunity to use Colstrip’s large and existing transmission to build out more clean energy and export it to Washington and other states. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Montana wind power has the potential to power 6.4 million average homes by 2030. Meanwhile, the American Wind Energy Association ranked Montana 3rd for wind power potential in the United States. The retirement of Colstrip Units 1 and 2 will help Washington meet its carbon goals.   Bill Arthur, the Sierra Club’s Deputy Director of the Beyond Coal Campaign, issued the following statement:   “This settlement is a big step for Washington and the Pacific Northwest’s future without coal and for meeting Washington State climate pollution goals. Washington, Montana and the larger Northwest have an abundance of clean, non-fossil energy resources ready to be developed and create good jobs for the future. Now the task at hand is to assure any replacement plan is based upon 100% clean energy.”   Anne Hedges, of the Montana Environmental Information Center, issued the following statement:   “Montana and Washington have benefited from a shared energy system for decades. We believe our two states can continue to be strong allies in moving toward a 21st century clean energy system that benefits both states. Montana has an outstanding wind resource that provides affordable and reliable electricity when Washington consumers need it most. We look forward to continuing with that mutually beneficial relationship for another four decades and beyond.”   More Background   In 2013, Sierra Club and the Montana Environmental Information Center filed litigation in the United States District Court for the District of Montana against the owners of Colstrip for violations of the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit alleged that the coal-fired power plant had been modified numerous times without the installation of modern pollution controls as required by the Clean Air Act.   The settlement resolves these issues, reflects the declining economics of coal-generated power, and establishes a time frame for permanently ceasing operation of the boilers of Units 1 and 2, the two oldest Colstrip units, on or before July 1, 2022. In April, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation establishing a funding mechanism for the retirement and cleanup of these two units. In March, Oregon state Governor Kate Brown signed legislation requiring the end of all coal power imports into the state by 2030 and 50 percent clean energy by 2040.   These two units were built nearly 40 years ago and were said at the time to have a 30 year life span. The Colstrip plant is the largest air pollution source in Montana and one of the biggest emitters of carbon and climate pollution in the country.   This settlement will be lodged with the court and is subject to a 45 day review period by the US EPA and the US Justice Department.   An online timeline highlighting events and developments that preceded the announcement of the agreements is available online at: http://bit.ly/Colstrip-timeline.

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