Montana Legislative Panel OKs Bill to Help Troubled Plant

Two of the plant's four units are scheduled to shut down by mid-2022

By Justin Franz

HELENA — A Montana Senate committee has advanced a measure that would allow NorthWestern Energy to buy out the five other owners of the troubled Colstrip coal-fired power plant for $1.

The bill by Republican Sen. Tom Richmond of Billings would also allow the utility to pass its future costs to customers without question, even after the plant closes.

Two of the plant’s four units are scheduled to shut down by mid-2022. Four of the plant’s other five owners are located in Washington state and Oregon and are under pressure to abandon coal power.

Jason Brown of the Montana Consumer Counsel says the counsel opposes the measure because it shifts a monopoly’s risks to its captive consumers.

The Billings Gazette reports the Senate Energy Committee approved the bill Thursday on a 9-4 vote. It goes to the full Senate.

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