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 warns
Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 (and likely all its other devices in the near future) is clearly about control. They want to own the headphone market and don’t really care if it upsets consumers in the short term. And it looks as though this may not be the last upset because Samsung is apparently now considering doing the same thing.Instead of having to carry one adapter with your headphones, you could soon have to carry two. That’s because if Samsung does ditch the headphone jack it will replace it with a proprietary port. Right now, Samsung is thought to be at the exploratory stage to see how viable it would be.By introducing another port, Samsung would control licensing of that port meaning it could undercut Apple’s licensing fee for headphone manufacturers. It could also offer the port to other Android handset makers cheaply, or even for free, as a way of expanding its use quickly and therefore being a stronger competitor to Apple’s Lightning port.Headphone manufacturers will be watching what happens in the coming months with interest and some concern. Each headphone jack replacement means licensing deals need to be struck in order to support the new ports. Then there’s a manufacturing problem because they’ll need to decide how many of each type to produce based on demand (assuming a fixed cable solution).It seems likely, especially if there’s three competing standards, that headphones will start shipping with three cables you can switch out depending on the device you use. That takes the hassle out of the equation for consumers and allows manufacturers to ship one version of each type of headphones/earbuds that support all devices. It would mean the price of headphones increasing slightly, though, mainly due to the extra cables in the box.If there’s an upside to the coming confusion over ports and headphone compatibility I don’t see it yet, although there could be some positives. Maybe it will push manufacturers to look more closely at wireless audio and start producing a greater range of completely wireless products that have all-day battery. Maybe they can even achieve that without their products needing a safety strap.