- Washington state lawmakers this week passed a measure "providing an orderly framework" for Puget Sound Energy to close down coal plants, setting off concerns in neighboring Montana that the bill calls for shuttering plants in the state, the Great Falls Tribune reports.
- But senate energy chair Doug Ericksen (R), the bill's sponsor, said the bill does nothing of the sort and instead is just providing a way to pay for decommissioning costs which may be inevitable in the face of new regulations.
- The bill, SB 6248, passed 42-7. The measure was prompted by the possible shutdown of units 1 and 2 of the Colstrip Generating Station, due to federal air regulations. The plants are located 120 miles south of Billings.
The Colstrip Coal Generation Station is once again the center of controversy between Montana and Washington lawmakers. Now a Washington bill that aims to create a fund that will pay for the possible shutdown of two units in the plant is headed to the Washington state Senate, but Montana lawmakers fear closing the units would have dire consequences on the town, Colstrip.
But the Washington sponsor said the fear from Montanans is unjustified. “This bill does not eliminate any coal plant. Nor does it establish a schedule for a shutdown," Sen. Ericksen said in a statement.
The bill creates a mechanism to pay for the shutdown of two plants, but does not require shutdown or impose a schedule. The measure would also prevent the financing mechanism from being used if a shutdown takes place before 2023, though there are exceptions for involuntarily closures.
The plants, units 1 and 2 at the Colstrip Generating Station, are located in Montana. Puget Sound Energy owns 50% of the units. PSE estimates closing down and mopping up the units would cost between $130 million to $200 million. The facility is owned by a half dozen companies, according to the Great Falls Tribune, with none of them headquartered in Montana.