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NorthWestern Energy building $250M natural gas power plant in Laurel | State &

Word of Laurel’s gas-fired power plant leaked weeks ago in the Montana Legislature as Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, sponsor of a Colstrip bill benefitting NorthWestern, testified that there would be a gas-fired power plant in Billings. The son of NorthWestern’s former director of government affairs, was 8 miles off the mark but was in the ballpark.

Fitzpatrick’s Senate Bill 379, supported by NorthWestern, shields the utility from financial losses related to Colstrip by guaranteeing full recovery of new shares in the plant, as well as determining that only NorthWestern could decide when that was considered shut down. It set up regulator-proof terms for passing on unanticipated costs to customers.

Relevant to the 175-megawatt Laurel RICE plant, SB 379 also set up a formula to determining what customers were to pay for these new-to-NorthWestern Colstrip acquisitions. A 185-megawatt share of Unit 4 was likely to cost customers $486 million according to PSC analysts, who also offered up an alternative $238 million price that eliminated basic costs like coal for making coal power, power plant maintenance, and capital expenses.

Lawmakers were told there was no cheaper option.

“The only thing that’s cheaper would be if you went down to the store and got some candles down at Safeway and burned those. That’s probably cheaper. But nobody has produced anything that says that anything is cheaper than this. Replacing Colstrip is not cheaper,” Fitzpatrick told lawmakers last week.

Read More: NorthWestern Energy building $250M natural gas power plant in Laurel | State &

2021-04-20 19:35:00

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