Montana legislator introduces bill for state to buy Colstrip coal plant

first_imgMontana legislator introduces bill for state to buy Colstrip coal plant FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Montana Public Radio:Lawmakers in Helena are starting to debate whether the state could borrow up to $500 million to buy the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip.The future of the plant is up in the air. The West Coast consumers who Colstrip sends most of its power to are pushing away from coal-powered electricity due to climate change concerns. Coal power is also becoming more expensive relative to electricity generated by natural gas and renewables.“There’s many people that work at Colstrip asked me to introduce a bill to save their jobs,” Billings Republican Representative Rodney Garcia said. Garcia introduced the Montana Energy Security Act (HB 203), Monday. It would allow the state to sell bonds to finance the purchase of the coal-fired power plant, and allow plant workers to keep all the benefits they had under their private employer.The Colstrip plant employs roughly 360 people, a workforce that’s the backbone of the town of Colstrip, which has a population of more than 2,000. Two of Colstrip’s four units are already scheduled to close no later than 2020, the result of a federal Clean Air Act lawsuit. The two newer, cleaner burning, units will remain online. But energy policies adopted in Washington and Oregon are trimming those states’ use of coal-fired electricity.Critics of the idea say acquiring Colstrip is a financial risk for the state. They also say the bill has numerous flaws, including creation of a new five-member commission elected by the public, which would ultimately make the purchase decision.As Montana lawmakers consider buying the Colstrip power plant, legislators in Washington state are nearing an initial vote on whether to eliminate all coal-fired power costs from their utilities. This could include Puget Sound Energy, which owns a 50 percent share of Colstrip older units 1 and 2 and a 25 percent in units 3 and 4. The proposal for Washington to cut ties with coal-fired power by the end of 2025 could get an initial vote later this week. With it may come another sign for Colstrip’s future.More: Bill would empower the state to buy Colstrip power plantlast_img

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