Washington utility inks deal to buy Montana wind power

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Puget Sound Energy announced Wednesday an agreement to buy power from an eastern Montana wind farm as the Washington state utility that co-owns the Colstrip power plant seeks to reduce its carbon emissions.

PSE signed a 20-year agreement with a NextEra Energy Resources subsidiary to purchase 350 megawatts of power from the Clearwater Wind Project proposed about 60 miles north of Colstrip, utility officials said.

The agreement allows PSE to use existing transmission lines from the Colstrip plant to deliver electricity to customers in western Washington.

The amount of electricity being purchased by PSE is enough to power about 140,000 households, spokesperson Andrew Padula said.

Clearwater Wind is expected to be completed by the end of 2022 and would generate 750 megawatts from turbines in Rosebud, Garfield and Custer counties.

PSE sought to sell its stake in one of Colstrip’s four power-generating in 2019, but the deal fell through last year after utility regulators in Washington recommended the sale be rejected.

Colstrip’s two older units, co-owned by PSE and Talen Energy, shut down last year.

The southeastern Montana coal plant has strong political support in the state and in the community of Colstrip, which depends heavily on the plant’s jobs. The plant has been buffeted by changing energy markets as natural gas, wind and solar power generation grow and coal plants across the U.S. close.