J.E. Corette Coal-Fired Power Plant to Be Retired

PPL Montana, a subsidiary of PPL Corp., announced on Feb. 10 that it will permanently shut down its J.E. Corette coal-fired power plant located near Billings.

The 153-MW plant began operation in 1968. In 2012, the company decided to mothball the plant, retaining the option to restart it if wholesale power market conditions in the Northwest changed, but prices continue to remain low. The cost for emissions upgrades to comply with Mercury and Air Toxics Standards factored heavily into the decision as well.

The single-unit facility situated along the Yellowstone River on the outskirts of town employs about 30 full-time workers. The decision has no effect on the Colstrip power plant, which PPL Montana operates and owns jointly with five other companies.

In September, PPL Montana announced the sale of its hydroelectric facilities to Northwestern Energy Corp., but even more changes are in store for PPL in the near future.

Last June the company announced that it would spinoff its PPL Energy Supply business and combine it with competitive generation assets owned by RJS Power Holdings, forming a new, publicly traded independent company, Talen Energy Corp.

On Dec. 18, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission conditionally approved the transaction pending additional measures that would satisfy concerns it expressed with the original proposal. Late last month, PPL filed a joint response with RJS Power Holdings accepting the mitigation measures, which address competitiveness issues in a specific region of the PJM Interconnection.

The parties are continuing with other regulatory reviews, including with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Department of Justice, and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, to obtain approvals needed to complete the transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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