Future of ‘Save Colstrip’ bill in doubt, is it about transmission, too?

HELENA — The future of the proposal to prolong the life of the Colstrip 4 power plant, by encouraging NorthWestern Energy to buy a larger share of the plant, appeared in doubt Tuesday, as legislative leaders held off on appointing a panel that could resurrect it.

House Speaker Greg Hertz, R-Polson, and Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, told MTN News they’re not sure if a House-Senate conference committee to resolve the issue would be appointed in the final days of the Legislature, which could end as soon as Thursday.

When asked what would determine the outcome, Thomas said it’s not clear whether enough votes exist to support whatever proposal could be negotiated on Colstrip legislation.

Another key legislator — Sen. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, who proposed a possible solution late Sunday — also told MTN News that time may be running out on finding agreement to pass a bill.