Our electric grid is facing "dire consequences." The problem isn't the addition of wind or solar energy to the electric utility grid, it is the subtraction of coal, and to a lesser extent gas, from the grid.

That was the powerful testimony of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioner that we shared earlier this week.

Despite the "dire consequences" facing our grid, the Biden Administration is doubling down on efforts to shut down Colstrip and the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Montana

We talked about that and more with Montana Public Service Commission President James Brown on our statewide radio talk show, Montana Talks, Wednesday morning.

First off, though, I asked him if he will take another run at the Montana Supreme Court- especially now that two vacancies on the court will come up in 2024.

Jim Brown: As you can imagine, since that news broke- what would it be late last week- the number of phone calls I've received from people asking me that very question has been numerous and copious. I can tell you at this point in time that I would like to have a summer off after running last summer...so I'm going to make a decision as to what I'm going to do politically probably around Labor Day I can make that promise.

What about this newest attack on Colstrip?

Jim Brown: The Biden Administration through the EPA is seeking to enact, quote, tougher mercury and toxic air emission standards for coal producing plants. And really the one facility that's sort of on the front line of this is the Colstrip facility. I had a conversation with the President of Northwestern Energy last week to talk about this, and then Northwestern Energy has basically petitioned the PSC to weigh in to the EPA about the problems that these new standards, if enacted, could cause.

Brown tells us that if these rules go into effect, Colstrip could shut down in under 3 years.

Jim Brown: Northwestern Energy has represented to us that if these new mercury standards go into effect, that it can force the the closure of Colstrip as soon as 2026...and so the concern that is raised for me as a regulator whose job is to ensure in part that we have enough power supply to keep the lights on in Montana is if that is the consequence of these new mercury standards, then this is a real issue for Montanans.

Here is the full audio of our chat with PSC President James Brown where we also talked about the Held v. Montana case, the MDU rate case, and more:

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