PPL Montana, which for some time had said it planned to mothball the small Corette coal plant by the April compliance deadline under the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), announced Feb. 10 that it will permanently shut the plant in August of this year.
The company said it re-evaluated a 2012 decision to mothball the plant and retain the option to restart it if wholesale power market conditions in the Northwest changed. The estimated cost of upgrades that would be required to put the plant back in service has increased significantly since 2012, and wholesale power prices in the Northwest remain low, the PPL Corp. (NYSE: PPL) subsidiary said.
The 153-MW plant, which uses low-sulfur coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, has about 30 full-time employees. The plant began operation in 1968. The decision has no effect on the much larger Colstrip power plant in Rosebud County, Montana, which PPL Montana operates and owns jointly with five other companies.
Mike Scott, the Sierra Club’s Billings office, said in a Feb. 10 statement about this news: “It’s good to see PPL Montana recognize that the costs of coal are no longer competitive with clean renewables and other energy sources, especially with an old, outdated plant like Corette that doesn’t have modern pollution controls. Electricity customers in Montana — and Washington, where PPL’s Colstrip power plant sends much of its power — want clean energy from our state, not dirty coal. Moving forward, we want to see PPL and other companies creating thoughtful transition plans that protect affected workers and help them move into jobs in growing energy sectors like wind and solar.”