‘Save Colstrip’ bill will cost Montana consumers, PSC staff warns

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Billings Gazette:The Republicans’ play to bail out Colstrip will cost each NorthWestern Energy customer at least $721 and may not work, according to Montana Public Service Commission analysts. Analysts for the state’s commission of elected utility regulators laid out the costs Monday and recommended the PSC oppose the latest bill on Colstrip.At issue is Senate Bill 331, a bill by Billings Republican Sen. Tom Richmond that assures that if Colstrip closes early customers keep paying NorthWestern $407 million for the utility’s 2008 purchase of Colstrip Unit 4. Early closure is seeming more likely as the power plant’s other utility owners arrange to be financially ready to shutter Colstrip by 2027. The bill, which has NorthWestern’s backing, is being promoted by the Senate Republican caucus.“In the event that Colstrip Unit 4 were retired in 2027, the asset’s un-depreciated and remediation costs total $276 million. That amount would equate to a liability of approximately $721 per customer, based on the current number of NorthWestern customers,” analysts reported.That $721 cost per consumer could increase as other costs, such as environmental cleanup, are folded in the equation, according to staff.Analysts described the bill as a guarantee that NorthWestern would be paid back, not as legislation that would protect Colstrip from early closure. The risk associated with the power plant closing early would shift entirely to NorthWestern’s customers, staff said.The commission declined the advice and voted 3 to 1 to support SB 331, which was scheduled for a Tuesday hearing. Bozeman’s Roger Koopman, the only no vote, warned the commission wouldn’t be able to balance the interests of customers and NorthWestern if SB 331 passed.More: ‘Save Colstrip’ bill could cost each NorthWestern customer at least $721 ‘Save Colstrip’ bill will cost Montana consumers, PSC staff warnslast_img read more