NorthWestern Energy plans to increase its share in Colstrip Unit 4 by buying out another power plant owner who recently revealed the coal-fired unit needs $20 million in repairs.
Montana’s largest monopoly utility said Tuesday that it will buy out Puget Sound Energy for $1. The price is identical to what NorthWestern pitched to the 2019 Montana Legislature 10 months ago. Lawmakers rejected the deal, with several expressing worry the utility’s customers would face hidden debts associated with repairs and future environmental cleanup costs. In the Legislature, NorthWestern never identified which of Colstrip’s five other owners was offering shares.
NorthWestern currently has a 30% share in Unit 4, for which its customers owe $300 million. Puget’s share would boost NorthWestern’s stake to 55%. In a separate deal, NorthWestern would buy Puget’s capacity on Colstrip’s transmission lines for $2.5 million to $3.7 million.
The utility has the ability to buy Puget’s assets without government approval, but if its customers are to shoulder costs associated with maintenance, operation, taxes and environmental cleanup, the Public Service Commission will have to sign off. NorthWestern indicated it will seek PSC approval early next year.