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Common Myths Related to Senate Bill 338

The 65th Montana Legislature is currently debating Senate Bill 338, legislation proposed by Senator Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip). The bill is also known as the “Colstrip Decommissioning Bill.” The Montana Chamber of Commerce, the Montana Taxpayers Association, the Northwest Energy Coalition and the owners of the Colstrip Power Generation facility oppose the bill.

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Myth: We need to pass this bill now, and it’s our only avenue to address Colstrip.

Facts: It will be years until Units 1 & 2 are retired and decommissioned.  Meanwhile, the newer, higher employing and more economic Units 3 & 4 will continue to operate and contribute to the local economy.  Furthermore, the Montana Attorney General has already been granted intervenor status in Washington State to help represent Montana in Puget Sound Energy’s general rate case proceeding before Washington and Transportation Utilities Commission.




Myth: This bill is holding corporations accountable and will keep them from cutting and running from their obligations to Montana.


Facts: The owners of Colstrip have paid hundreds of millions to the state of Montana for decades. They have provided good-paying jobs as longstanding partners in Montana’s energy economy. With the exception of Talen Montana, all of the owners of Colstrip are publicly regulated utilities which means they cannot make decisions unilaterally and the concept of “cut and run” is inaccurate at best and fear-mongering at worst.


No owners have ever suggested they are planning to “cut and run.” In fact, to the contrary, Puget Sound Energy has said very clearly that they plan to be in Montana for many years to come as the newer, more economic Units 3 & 4, which support many more jobs, are expected to continue to run for the foreseeable future.



Myth: Because Montana lawmakers did not take the opportunity, years ago, to set aside a portion of interest from the Montana Coal Tax Trust Fund to prepare for eventual social costs and economic impacts of decommissioning, lawmakers should now go after the companies who own those facilities to fill in the gap.


Facts: The owners of the Colstrip Power Generating Station have paid hundreds of millions to the Montana Coal Tax Trust Fund. It would be setting a new precedent to penalize a business for past actions that are out of the businesses’ control. This statement suggests businesses that have employed generations of Montana workers, paid hundreds of millions in taxes to the state of Montana, should pay to correct mistakes of past Montana lawmakers.



Myth: The city of Colstrip will be nothing but a shell when Units 1 and 2 are retired.


Facts: Only a fraction of Colstrip plant employees are exclusively assigned to units 1 and 2. Colstrip Units 3 & 4, which are younger units, produce the most energy, support the most jobs, are cleaner, more efficient, and will continue to operate well into the foreseeable future.   In addition to regular operations at Colstrip Units 3 & 4, the decommissioning and remediation work will result in additional economic activity and offer employment opportunities

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