Friday, March 24, 2006

Proposed power plant moratorium advances

Resolution for state energy plan also passes in House

Express Staff Writer

With a possible moratorium on certain types of power plants, legislators in the Idaho interim energy committee this summer could be at work helping to develop a state energy plan.

The House of Representatives approved Tuesday a two-year moratorium on some coal-fired power plants. The bill, labeled H791, sponsored by House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, R-Burley, would put a temporary halt to the issuance of licenses or permits for coal-fired power plants, or building or air permits for such facilities.

Coal gasification plants would be exempt, as would coal-fired power plants owned or constructed by a public utility regulated by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, or by a cooperative or municipality.

Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, and Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, whose district includes Blaine County, co-sponsored the bill, which passed the House by a vote of 64 to 5.

A first reading of the H791 was held Wednesday with the Senate State Affairs committee. The bill would have to pass committee then be sent to the Senate floor for three readings and a vote.

Another Newcomb proposal, labeled House Concurrent Resolution 62, requests the interim energy committee develop an integrated energy plan. The plan would provide for Idaho's energy needs while protecting the health and safety of Idaho's citizens, according to the resolution's language.

The study may require the committee to seek consultant services from independent experts, the cost for whom could range from $100,000 to $300,000.

HCR62 passed the House by a vote of 67 to 1 and now moves to the Senate State Affairs Committee.

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