SB 176 by Sen. Brad Molnar (R-Laurel) attempts to find a solution to the myriad of problems related to the Colstrip plant, but it ends up being a mix of terrible ideas with a small (but good) dose of strong consumer protections.

  • First, the bill makes every entity receiving any money from the coal trust sign a statement that they support the digging and burning of coal. (Imagine if public health advocates who receive tobacco tax money were required to sign a statement that they support the smoking and burning of tobacco products?)
  • It also attempts to allow one owner who wants to continue running the plant for decades to force the other owners to pay for all of the maintenance at the plant even if they are no longer receiving any power from the facility.
  • In addition, the bill mucks up the cleanup and bonding processes at Colstrip by giving the owners increased control over bond release, instead of allowing DEQ to determine when bond release is appropriate.
  • Finally, the good part of SB 176 is in Section 9, which says that remediation costs and stranded costs (those costs that exist for the owner after the plant closes) must be for by the shareholders of the utility and cannot be passed on to customers. 

Position: Oppose

Status: SB 176 was approved by the committee and will be voted on by the full Senate later this week.

Contact: Anne Hedges, ahedges@meic.org

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