Utility agreement outlines Colstrip coal plant costs

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state regulators have approved a settlement that lays out how Puget Sound Energy will fund closing and cleanup costs at the Colstrip power plant in Montana.

The settlement approved Tuesday by the Utilities and Transportation Commission calls for a 1 percent hike in PSE’s electric rates and a nearly 4 percent cut in natural gas rates.

The settlement does not set closure dates for Colstrip’s two newer units. But it accelerates the period, from 2045 to 2027, for when the utility will be able to recover the costs of those units 3 and 4. Colstrip’s two older units are already set to close by 2022.

The agreement includes $10 million to help Montana communities. Half of that money would be paid by company shareholders. It also includes a $2 million bump in weatherization help for the utility’s low-income customers.

The Bellevue, Washington-based utility has a large stake in the 2,100-megawatt Colstrip plant.