September 3, 2021 Read More →

Colstrip operator Talen falls $4 billion into debt, bonds downgraded

Billings Gazette:

Talen Energy, which operates Colstrip Power Plant, is $4 billion in debt and facing negotiations with creditors as its bonds are downgraded to a substantial fundamental credit risk.

What the company’s financial troubles mean for its Colstrip future remains to be seen. As the majority of the owners in the southeast Montana power plant prepare for a 2025 exit, Talen has been considered a holdout. The Woodlands, Texas, company owns a 30% share of Colstrip Unit 3. It is the unit’s only owner not to disclose plans for a 2025 exit. The $4 billion in debt was reported to Bloomberg by investors who participated in Talen’s August earnings call. 

Talen didn’t respond to questions by Lee Montana Newspapers concerning what its financial troubles mean for Colstrip. Specifically, Talen was asked whether its worsening finances would compel an agreement to shutter Unit 3 by the end of 2025. The company didn’t say whether it had notified the other five Colstrip owners of its financial situation.

Six companies unevenly split ownership of the Colstrip Power Plant’s remaining two units. Four of the owners are located in either Washington or Oregon, where state climate change laws require utilities to cut the cord on coal power as early as 2025. In those states, where Colstrip’s future is considered tenuous, anything adversely affecting power plant operations is expected to be reported to utility regulators. Washington’s Utility and Transportation Commission requires regular reports.

[Tom Lutey]

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