Corette plant demolition

The boiler structure was dismantled at the J.E. Corette power plant in fall 2015. With the demolition of the plant, Gov. Steve Bullock asked the EPA to reclassify a part of Yellowstone County as meeting air quality standards for sulfur dioxide emissions.

LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff

Talen Energy is talking with possible buyers of Billings’ J.E. Corette site as work continues to dismantle the former coal-fired power plant.

Talen spokesman Todd Martin said Tuesday it was too early to identify potential buyers but that the company is “speaking to parties who may be interested in purchasing the property. We are working to have the right party acquire the property.”

Nothing has been finalized or is close to being reported to the public, Martin said.

“It’s just premature at this point,” he said.

Steve Arveschoug, executive director of Big Sky Economic Development, said Tuesday he is aware of “private sector” interest in the site and has been briefed on initial plans. He declined to identify the potential buyer.

“They’re serious, and they are doing due diligence on the site. I’m cautious because you never know where due diligence will lead,” Arveschoug said.

Dismantling of J.E. Corette power plant

The dismantling of the former J.E. Corette power plant took a major step forward as demolition of the main boiler began late last week. Talen Energy Montana has retained an expert contractor to safely complete the work before the end of 2015.

Posted by Talen Energy on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The prospective buyers have not asked BSED for help, but the economic development agency has invited representatives to its Dec. 10 board meeting, Arveschoug said.

“I have asked them if they’d be willing to talk about their plans at the December board meeting,” he added.

The plant site, along the Yellowstone River next to Coulson Park and near the river bend at the base of Sacrifice Cliff, was home for 47 years of the 153-megawatt plant.

While the facilities are being decommissioned, Arveschoug said the site will still have some infrastructure, like a substation and rail spur. “That adds value to the site,” he said.

There also has been some interest in the site as open space, but Arveschoug said he hasn’t talked to some of the proponents of that in a while. The site could offer some “unique opportunities” for existing infrastructure needs in the near term and for long-term open space.

Former Corette owners PPL Montana closed the plant in April because the plant didn’t meet mercury pollution standards. The company spun off Corette along with other assets to Talen Energy.

Talen is dismantling the plant and doing environmental cleanup. Late last month, Talen took down the boiler structure. The company posted a video of the boiler’s demolition on its Facebook page

Martin said the company will not identify when it will demolish the smokestack because of public safety concerns but will video its demise and post it on Facebook. The site demolition work is to be completed by the end of the year, he said.

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Federal Court, Yellowtone County Reporter

Federal court and county reporter for The Billings Gazette.