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Colstrip coal-fired plant back to full operation

Posted at 11:43 AM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 20:22:49-04

COLSTRIP- The Colstrip Power Plant is back to full operation after emission standards violations shut down part of the plant in July.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality said Thursday preliminary test results on units 3 and 4 show they are back in compliance. Complete testing results from units 1 and 2 have not yet been submitted.

Plant operator Talen Energy released a statement this afternoon confirming the plants are back online.

“Earlier this month, testing demonstrated that Colstrip Steam Electric Station’s Units 3 and 4 are again operating in compliance with the filterable particulate matter limit established by the federal Mercury & Air Toxics Standard. As a result, all four Colstrip units are fully operational and will be run as electric system conditions dictate. Colstrip personnel are continuing to work with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Bureau to satisfactorily address the compliance deviation that occurred in June,” said Taryne Williams, a Talen spokeswoman.

Talen has since made modifications to improve scrubber performance to bring them back into air quality compliance.

Montana DEQ Public Information Officer Jeni Garcin said air quality staff were onsite for the compliance tests. She said units 3 and 4 are in compliance with the non-mercury metals portion of the MATS (Mercury and Air Toxics Standard) Rule. Preliminary results from units 1 and 2 tests have not been submitted to DEQ.

The Colstrip unit 2 compliance test was completed Monday. The Colstrip unit 1 compliance test is scheduled for Friday.

Colstrip Units 1 and 2 are scheduled to shut down by 2022 as part of a settlement with the Sierra Club and Montana Environmental Information Center.

Northwestern Energy weighed in following the update on Colstrip. Spokeman Butch Larcombe said Colstrip Units 3 and 4 are critical to providing reliable service to Montana customers.

“Over the lifespan of the plant Colstrip has been a reliable source and we expect it to be there for decades to come”, said Larcombe. Colstrip accounts for 25 percent of the Northwestern energy portfolio.

Related:
New study, backed by conservationists and labor, touts clean-up benefits for Colstrip

Reporting by Jon Stepanek for MTN News