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Inslee says he’ll sign Colstrip bill with partial veto

FILE - In this July 1, 2013, file photo, smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont. Hoping to end the use of coal power in Washington state, lawmakers are proposing measures to help the state’s three private utilities eliminate the electricity they get from out-of-state coal-fired power plants.
FILE - In this July 1, 2013, file photo, smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont. Hoping to end the use of coal power in Washington state, lawmakers are proposing measures to help the state’s three private utilities eliminate the electricity they get from out-of-state coal-fired power plants. AP

Gov. Jay Inslee says he’ll approve a bill allowing Washington state’s largest utility to set aside money for the eventual shutdown of two coal-fired electricity plants in Montana.

Inslee also said Thursday that he’ll veto a section of the bill, though his office declined to specify which section.

Senate Bill 6248 was originally scheduled for action Thursday. Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith says it was moved to Friday to give staff more time to review it.

The measure lets Puget Sound Energy create a fund to cover future decommissioning and cleanup costs at the Colstrip plant in Montana, if the units are closed after 2023. PSE owns half of units 1 and 2.

Puget Sound Energy has said the two coal-fired power plants can be shuttered and dismantled for $49.7 million. Cleaning up the contaminated water and coal waste at the site will take another $85 to $142.7 million. However, the cost to electricity customers to complete the proposed shutdown has not been determined.

The Colstrip Power Plant is the nation's 15th-largest producer of greenhouse gases, emitting 13.5 million metric tons annually, according to the EPA. Units 1 and 2 are its oldest and biggest polluters.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock last week asked Inslee to veto the measure over concerns about its impacts to Montana.

Inslee said Thursday he has listened to those concerns but will act in the interest of Washington.

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