December 3, 2018 Read More →

Former, current owners take fight over Montana’s troubled Colstrip coal plant to court

Pennsylvania-based PPL Corp. filed its own lawsuit Friday in a legal dispute with the Colstrip power-plant operator over $733 million in proceeds from the 2014 sale of a dozen Montana hydroelectric dams.

Talen Energy, which operates the four coal-fired power plants in Colstrip in southeast Montana, sued PPL in state District Court in late October, saying it should get the $733 million to cover pension costs for Colstrip workers and plant cleanup costs. But in a legal action filed Friday in Delaware, PPL said the Montana lawsuits should be dismissed and the case transferred to Delaware, where the company is incorporated.

The PPL lawsuit also said that Riverstone Holdings, a private-equity firm that owns Talen, drained $500 million in cash from Talen in 2017 and is now trying to blame PPL for Talen’s financial misfortune.

“Riverstone decided to advance its own interests above those of Talen Montana and, thus, leave Talen Montana high and dry,” the suit said. “Riverstone … initiated the Montana lawsuits in a brazen effort to hold (PPL) liable for Riverstone’s own avarice and recklessness.”

Talen and Riverstone took control of the Colstrip power plants in 2015, in a spinoff from PPL. The coal-fired plants in Colstrip have faced increased financial difficulty as their power becomes less marketable and is undercut by cheaper alternatives.

PPL Montana, a subsidiary of PPL Corp., bought portions of the Colstrip plant and a dozen hydroelectric plants from Montana Power Co. in 1998. It then sold the hydro plants back to Montana Power’s successor, NorthWestern Energy, in 2014, and PPL Corp. also spun off ownership of the Colstrip plants and other holdings to Talen and Riverstone the next year.

More: PPL fires back against Colstrip owners; seeks to move $730M dispute to Delaware

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