Coal cuts: Aging power plants, cheap natural gas shutting off Montana coal

It wasn’t the first time a Montana coal mine had gone bankrupt, but Decker Coal’s reason for calling it quits had never been stated so plainly.


There are no longer customers lined up at Decker’s door for Montana coal.


Detroit-based energy company DTE no longer needed the 2.5 million tons of coal it has bought from Decker every year for $15.25 a ton. A customer since 2003, DTE was done. It was retiring three coal-fired power plants by 2022, and converting two more to natural gas. It was a death blow for mine owner Lighthouse Resources, the debtor in bankruptcy that shuttered Decker mine.