Description: Lawsuit brought by out-of-state owners of Montana coal-fired power plant against other owners and Montana Attorney General challenging constitutionality of state laws that created barriers to closure of plant.
Portland General Electric Co. v. NorthWestern Co.
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 10/19/2022 Order Download Findings and recommendations adopted in full and plaintiffs' motions for partial summary judgment granted. Federal Court Said Montana Laws Concerning Electric Generating Facilities Were Unconstitutional. The federal district court for the District of Montana granted a motion for partial summary judgment by four out-of-state owners of a coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Montana who intended to transition towards closure of the plant to comply with Oregon and Washington laws requiring electric utilities to eliminate use of coal-fired resources. The out-of-state owners—who owned a 70% interest in the plant and owned and operated the plant pursuant to a 1981 Ownership and Operation Agreement with two companies that each owned 30% interests in generating units—challenged the constitutionality of Montana laws enacted in 2021 that, among other things, require arbitration in a Montana venue under the Montana Uniform Arbitration Act for agreements concerning electrical generation facilities and require consent of all co-owners for the permanent closure of a generating unit at an electrical generation facility. The companies that owned 30% interests testified in support of the bills and were defendants in this action, along with the Montana Attorney General. The court determined that the arbitration law violated the U.S. and Montana Constitutions’ Contract Clauses and was preempted under the Federal Arbitration Act, and that the law requiring consent of all co-owners violated the dormant Commerce Clause and the U.S. Constitution’s Contract Clause. 09/28/2022 Findings and Recommendations Download Magistrate judge recommended that plaintiffs' motions for partial summary judgment be granted. 10/13/2021 Order Download Motion for preliminary injunction granted. 09/07/2021 Opposition Download Brief filed by Talen Montana, LLC in opposition to plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. 05/19/2021 Complaint Download First amended complaint filed. 05/04/2021 Complaint Download Complaint filed.