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Montana Senate backs Colstrip coal switch | 406 Politics

Specifically, the bill states that a state certificate relative to burning fuel at the plant won’t need to be amended “if a change is made at the facility to alter fuel sources necessary to maintain operations at the facility, if the certificate holder obtains necessary air and water quality permits.”

One possibility would be the power plant buying coal from another mine, an issue that was ripe in the 2019 Legislature as the power plant was in contract negotiations with Westmoreland. Plant operator Talen Energy had asked Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality to approve coal from a different mine. Talen also sought a state permit for a coal unloading facility.

But the plant owners also signed a six-year contract with Westmoreland in late 2019, that locked the owners in to a supply agreement through 2025. Every owner signed the agreement except Talen, which signed a separate contract.

In Washington proceedings just months ago, Puget Sound Energy officials stated that although it and other Colstrip owners looked into buying coal from another mine, most likely in Wyoming, the economics didn’t make sense. The idea was discarded. 

There is another possibility for how the bill could be used by power plant owners. Refined coal, that is say, coal that’s dried or chemically treated to temper its air pollution.

Refined coal comes with lucrative federal tax credit of more than $7 a ton. Companies get the credit for lowering nitrogen oxides by 20%, or mercury and sulfur dioxide by 40%. In 2018, Montana’s U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and fellow Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, then a U.S. Representative, worked to extend the life of the refined coal tax credit at the request of Colstrip stakeholders.

Read More: Montana Senate backs Colstrip coal switch | 406 Politics

2021-04-28 20:30:00

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