Energy Open set amid hard times in MT coal country

Star Staff

The clock is winding down for the start of the 14th Annual Energy Open, an event which showcases the benefits of the resource recovery industry in Colstrip, aka the “Energy Capital of Montana.”

The annual event begins with a round of tours and networking opportunities on Thursday, followed by a round of golf on Friday.

According to a news release from the Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC), the Energy Open brings the public together with legislators, energy leaders and local decision makers, and “showcases the economic benefits of responsible energy development.” 

The need to promote the responsible use of coal for electric generation is growing more desperate for Colstrip area officials, , because the clock is also winding down on two of the four electric-generating units at the Colstrip Generating Station, which drive’s Colstrip’s and Rosebud County’s economy.

The partial closure is slated for 2022, and stems from a court settlement between the plant’s owners and environmental groups that sued over pollution from the plant. Looming job losses at the plant, as well as at a nearby coal mine that supplies coal to the plant, are expected to be devastating to the area economy.

Energy Open sponsors SEMDC and Colstrip UNITED bill the event as “a great opportunity” for the public to “tour unique energy facilities; network with energy leaders, decision makers and legislators; and golf one of Montana’s most-challenging public courses.”

The event starts at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Colstrip High School with registration and networking opportunities.  

Lunch will be served prior to a choice of two different tours.

One tour will feature the power plant, the Boilermakers Training Center (workforce training), Rye Park and Castle Rock Lake (environmental and quality of life benefits). The other group will tour the nearby Western Energy Rosebud Coal Mine.

A dinner will follow at the Wagon Wheelz Café / Moose Lodge.

On Friday the Energy Open 18 Hole Golf Tournament will be held at the Ponderosa Butte Golf Course in Colstrip. The day will conclude with a scholarship raffle and the tournament awards presentations.

The Energy Open is free but advance registration is required. For more information visit, call 406-748-2990 or email or