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Colstrip Unit

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Update April 28, 8:45 a.m.: On reconsideration Wednesday morning, lawmakers decided there were better places than the Public Service Commission budget to find $75,000 for an investigation into the PSC's decision to not allow NorthWestern Energy to bill customers for $6 million stemming from a months-long summer malfunction at Colstrip Power Plant. The money will come from the state general fund. 

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The true price of a bill shielding NorthWestern Energy from financial losses related to the Colstrip Power Plant took center stage Wednesday as the sponsoring lawmaker attempted to cast doubt on analysts' warnings about consumer debt.

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Montana's attorney general is one step closer to taking up NorthWestern Energy’s fight over Colstrip Power Plant repairs, following a Monday state House vote to nullify portions of the private business agreement governing the generator.

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A last-ditch effort to save Colstrip Power Plant and shield NorthWestern Energy from financial losses, should the coal-fired generator shut down, won final Senate approval Thursday, despite warnings about consumer debt.

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Rather than selling its shares in Colstrip power plant, it would be better for Washington consumers for Puget Sound Energy to keep its shares in the troubled power plant and use the utility’s ownership leverage to shut down the power plant entirely by the end of 2025, Washington’s consumer advocate and the staff of the state’s utility commission said.

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It’s been nearly three years since Colstrip Power Plant owners in Washington state first committed millions of dollars to helping their Montana company town transition to a post-coal era. But, in Big Sky Country, the discussion keeps getting shelved.

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