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The latest Montana politics, elections and Legislature news.

Bill Seeking To Ease Colstrip Shutdown Advances

Sen. Duane Ankney (R) - Colstrip.
Mike Albans
/
Montana Public Radio
Republican Sen. Duane Ankney from Colstrip says the bill isn’t supposed to penalize the companies for leaving, but to help set expectations for when they do. ";

Legislation aiming to secure the social and economic future of Colstrip and the community sustained, in part, by the town’s coal-fired plant passed out of the Senate today. Senate Bill 338 received wide bipartisan support as it passed two key votes this afternoon.The bill would put greater regulations and guidelines on how the operatives of the two older electricity generating units in Colstrip are allowed to shut down.

Republican Sen. Duane Ankney from Colstrip says the bill isn’t supposed to penalize the companies for leaving, but to help set expectations for when they do. He says the bill also guarantees money to the community of Colstrip.

“No, it’s not a pay day for Colstrip," says Ankney. "What it does is backfill the school districts, backfills the local county taxes, and just as important is it brings some money back into the state."

Colstrip Units 1 and 2 are expected to shut down in 2022, at the very latest, as the result of a lawsuit settled last year between the plant's owners and environmental groups. Opponents to the bill, including the out-of-state owners of the Colstrip power plant, say this bill will hurt Montana's business climate and it serves as a exit fee for power developers.

SB-338 passed out of the Senate on a 43-6 vote, and will not move into the House for debate.

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