City of Colstrip Files For Intervention on Avista/Hydro One Merger
The City of Colstrip has filed as an intervenor in the Avista/Hydro One change of ownership transaction before the Montana Public Service Commission, Docket No. 2017.9.71. The city’s concern is what the effect of the requested ownership change and accelerated depreciation schedule will have on Colstrip and its residents and workers. Reactions to recent news articles saying that Avista's accelerated depreciation schedule could mean the closure of the Colstrip Power Plant's units 3 & 4 (the two larger newer units) has caused a degree of alarm that Colstrip's Mayor John Williams says is not necessary. “I would like to point out to readers that page 17 line 4 of the filing docket – testimony of Jason Thackston states “Avista and Hydro One will not agree to an accelerated date of closure for units 3 & 4 as part of this process.” I encourage your readers to go to the filing documents to get the facts. Do not depend on the sensationalism in a newspaper article particularly authored by certain writers. “ said Mayor John Williams A point to keep in mind: The depreciable life of a resource is an accounting term. It does not determine the actual life of a resource. In fact, according to page 7, line 20 of supplemental testimony from Patrick Ehrbar, Avista’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, “Avista cannot unilaterally agree to a physical shutdown of Colstrip Units 3 and 4. Even if Avista were to agree to advance the depreciable life of a generating resource, the depreciable life does not determine the actual life of the resource.” So do Colstrip residents have a reason to panic? Not at this point. This issue is certainly something to watch as new developments unfold, but the citizens of Colstrip have multiple entities that have filed for intervention on their behalf, not just the City itself but also the Montana AFL-CIO. At this point, time will tell what the Avista / Hydro One merger will mean for Colstrip and by extension, the entire state of Montana.