Public comment is welcome on proposed draft legislation that attempts to address the needs of Montana and local communities, as plans to close two coal-fired generating units in Colstrip move forward.
The Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee (ETIC) of the Legislature met July 14-15 and requested draft legislation be prepared and posted for public comment. The committee directed ETIC staff to work with Sen. Ankney and to develop legislative proposals to assist the state of Montana in planning for the pending partial closure of the facilities. In addition, legislation also was to address the owner’s responsibility to displaced workers and the community and to outline remediation plans and requirements for the area
The committee is requesting specific comment on:
- LC COL1 – – Appropriate money to allow Montana to participate in proceedings before out-of-state utility commissions that address planning for the future of coal-fired generation facilities located in Montana.
- LC COL2 – Establish the Coal-Fired Generating Unit Decommissioning and Remediation Act and provide requirements for submission, review, modification, and approval of a decommissioning and remediation plan for a coal-fired generating unit and affected property.
- LC COL3 – Establish the Treasure State Restore and Rebuild Act by appropriating $50 million from the coal severance tax permanent fund to the Department of Commerce to provide grants to entities (local governments, schools, etc.) impacted by the closure of a natural resource business.
- LC COL4 – – Increase the electrical energy producer's license tax from $.0002 to $.00029 for the next 25 years to generate $50 million and require that the increase be deposited in the coal severance tax permanent fund.
- LC COL5 – Establish the Montana Energy Accountability Act and require an electrical company, wholesale exempt generator, or a public utility that retires a coal-fired generating unit to pay a coal-county impact fee for 10 years following closure of the unit or units. The money is provided to entities (local governments, schools, etc.) impacted by the closure of the unit.
- LC COL6 – Establish a benefits and retirement security task force in the Governor’s Office.
Public comments should be submitted by August 25 to Sonja Nowakowski, ETIC staff, at firstname.lastname@example.org (put Colstrip in the subject line) or to Legislative Services Division, Attn. Sonja Nowakowski, P.O. Box 201704, Helena, MT 59620-1704.
The ETIC will meet September 8- 9 in Helena to review and discuss the public comments and the draft legislation. The committee will then determine how best to amend the drafts and whether they should be brought before the 2017 Legislature. All comments received by 5 p.m. on August 25 will be compiled and reviewed by the ETIC prior to any decisions being made at the September meeting in Helena.
Comments also may be submitted in the form of proposed draft amendments to the legislation. If you have any difficulty opening the documents linked above or submitting your comments, please contact Sonja Nowakowski at (406)-444-3078. Additional legislative proposals concerning next-generation 9-1-1, net metering, and renewable energy credits also remain open for public comment.