Colstrip aerial

A 2013 aerial view shows the Colstrip power plants and settling ponds.

Colstrip Power Plant operator Talen Energy is taking steps to address COVID-19 risks.

The power plant operator began limiting access at the Colstrip site earlier this month, including allowing people to work remotely when possible. Social distancing, increased cleaning and disinfecting is being done to comply with government mandates and advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Taryne Williams, Talen communications director.

An April Colstrip tour by NorthWestern Energy’s board of directors has been called off. NorthWestern is a 30% owner of Colstrip Unit 4 and has agreed to buy more of the unit, pending regulatory approval, from another co-owner Puget Sound Energy.

There have also been discussions about postponing the scheduled shutdown of Unit 4 for maintenance. The work involves bringing in a large contingent of workers from outside the community. There local concerns about bringing in a crew.

“Due to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, and following consultation with local officials, we are currently evaluating a postponement of the spring planned outage for Colstrip Unit 4 scheduled to begin in late April and expect to decide within the next two weeks,” Williams said.

There have been no cases of COVID-19 at the power plant. Rosebud County, where Colstrip is located, doesn’t have a reported case at this time.