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By Keila Szpaller, Daily Montanan

Sen. Brad Molnar pitched a bill this session that, in his words, got “clobbered.”

The Laurel Republican standing alone isn’t unusual — but he did find one thing curious.

The bill said if NorthWestern Energy shuts down Colstrip, it can’t pass the costs of a plant that isn’t working on to customers. Today, he said, that cost would amount to $365 million.

In committee, legislators voted 11-1 to table Senate Bill 387, but Molnar said one group was noticeably absent.

“There has to be protection for consumers. I was trying to do that with the bill. And yet the Consumer Counsel never showed up,” Molnar said.

The Montana Consumer Counsel is established in the state constitution to advocate on behalf of customers. It does so before the Public Service Commission — which regulates monopoly utilities — and in other “select matters.”


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