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Colstrip operator suing former owner over workers’ pension and benefits costs

COLSTRIP- Talen Energy, the company that operates the Colstrip Power Plants in southeastern Montana, has filed suit in state district court to recover $733 million of worker pension and benefit costs from former plant owner PPL.

Talen, a part owner in the Colstrip plants, alleges two separate lawsuits announced Monday that PPL wrongfully transferred $733 million in proceeds from the sale of its hydroelectric dams to Northwestern Energy in 2014.

Talen’s lawsuit contends those funds should have stayed with PPL’s Montana holdings.

In the first suit, the Talen Montana Retirement Plan and other plaintiffs claims that PPL and its directors improperly transferred $733 million from the sale of its Montana dams, according to a Talen news release.

Without those funds, Talen says it is unable to fulfill its pension and benefit obligations to workers at the Colstrip plants, nor can it meet its environmental cleanup obligations.

In the second suit, Talen claims PPL and its directors “breached their fiduciary duty” by causing PPL Montana to pay $733 million to its parent company, PPL Corp., which equaled the net proceeds of the sale of the dams to NorthWestern Energy.

Talen, which was created by PPL in 2015 to oversee its energy holdings, owns half of Colstrip Units 1 & 2 and has a 15 percent interest in Units 3 & 4.

“Over the last two years, we have worked tirelessly to improve the difficult financial condition of the Colstrip power plant that we inherited from PPL. We are asking PPL to fulfill its obligations to the Colstrip plant, the state of Montana, and to the Colstrip plant employees and retirees,” said Talen Montana President, Dale Lebsack, in a statement.

The Colstrip generating station employs approximately 320 workers.

Jay Kohn

Jay Kohn

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