Study outlines options for Colstrip municipal water after power plant close

Cost scenarios are emerging to keep water flowing to the community of Colstrip following the eventual closure of its namesake power plant.

In a 500-page feasibility study, the Department of Environmental Quality puts forth three scenarios in which the community of 2,300 keeps its water supply with monthly bills ranging from $68 to $126, without subsidies.

For years, the community has piggybacked onto the large water supply system that services Colstrip Power Plant. Water for the power plant is piped from the Yellowstone River, which is 30 miles away. Eventually, the water fills a man-made lake, Castle Rock reservoir, that serves the town and power plant.

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But the power plant is now facing adversity. Four of the coal-fired power plant’s six owners, who have a combined 70% stake in its two surviving units, have made plans to exit by the end of 2025. Those exiting owners face bans on coal power in Washington and Oregon where most of Colstrip’s power has been consumed for the past four decades. It is unclear how long the power plant will operate beyond that

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