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Helena Independent Record
by: Ken Toole
November 10, 2011

Time for transition to clean energy is now

It’s time Montana makes a transition away from coal power. Our existing coal plants are aging. In the next five to 10 years we face some decisions about what path we will take to the future. Refurbishing old plants is an expensive and short-term solution. Alternatively, building new coal plants is expensive and risky. Other states facing the same issue are more and more turning away from coal power.

But in Montana coal is king, wielding tremendous power in the political arena. We’ve all heard the arguments the proponents of coal power make. “It’s affordable, it’s reliable, and it’s clean, so let’s use it.” So what’s not to like?

Let’s start with the idea that coal power is affordable. A report from the Public Service Commission shows Colstrip 4 power has cost us $67.84 per megawatt hour. That is a very high rate. This old plant usually provides us with around 25 percent of our power. A contract with PPL provides about another 25 percent of our power at $52.15 per megawatt hour. PPL’s price includes hydro-power along with coal. It is a safe assumption that PPL’s price averages the two together and that the operational cost of producing hydro-power is much less than burning coal.


Read the full article from the Helena Independent Record at:

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