Friday, February 10, 2006

Stennett power-plant bill moves to House

Legislation would expand public involvement in review process

Express Staff Writer

The Republican-controlled Idaho Senate has approved a power plant-related bill sponsored by a Blaine County Democrat.

The "Good Neighbor Bill," labeled S1276, sponsored by Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, passed Wednesday, Feb. 8, on a vote of 26-8.

The bill would give legal standing to residents of counties adjacent to one in which a thermal power plant of 50 megawatts or greater is proposed.

Stennett submitted the bill, and several others, in reaction to the announcement last April that San Diego-based Sempra Generation wants to build a 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Jerome County.

Blaine County is not adjacent to Jerome County, but other counties in Stennett's District 25 are.

If the bill is voted into law and signed by the governor, those residents would be able to testify at public hearings on thermal power plants, and they would be able to take the county to court if they feel due process was violated.

Currently, only residents of the county in which a power plant is proposed can have their opinions submitted as part of the record.

Voting against the bill were Sens. Joyce Broadsword, R-Cocolalla; Don Burtenshaw, R-Terreton; Robert Geddes, R-Soda Springs; Michael Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake; Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth; Melvin Richardson, R-Idaho Falls; Gerry Sweet, R-Meridian; and J. Stanley Williams, R-Pingree.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, where the speaker will assign it to a committee for debate.

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