by Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press

Depending who you ask, the bill associated with cleaning and plugging Colstrip’s seeping ash ponds will cost anywhere from $400 million to $700 million, and it’s not yet clear who will pay it. It’s also unclear who will pay hundreds of millions of dollars of stranded costs: infrastructure investments that will ultimately lose money once the coal plant ceases operationentirely, which could happen before the decade ends.

But in a hearing on Senate Bill 176 this week Sen. Brad Molnar, R-Laurel,indicated who he thinks shouldn’t bear the burden of those costs: Montana’s energy consumers. He said Colstrip owners, past and present, should cover the full amount they’ve promised for remediation, and that stranded costs should be covered by company shareholders, not ratepayers.

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