Senate endorses fees for companies that close coal plants

Montana has five existing coal-fired power plants, the largest being Pennsylvania Power’s Colstrip power plant in south central Montana.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Senators have given initial approval to a proposal that would levy massive fines against companies that close coal plants in Montana.

Senators voted 26-24 Friday to endorse Senate Bill 402, which moved out of the Senate Finance and Claims Committee on a 10-3 vote on Tuesday.

The measure would require companies that close coal-fired power plants to pay two or five times the taxable value of the facility for as long as 20 years.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Duane Ankney says his proposal scared off a bill in the Washington state Legislature that would make it easier for companies to shutter the four coal-mining units in Colstrip, Montana. It's been amended to a study and passed the Senate earlier this month.

If Ankney's bill passes third reading, it will go to the House for consideration.

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