Colstrip community comes together to discuss future - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Colstrip community comes together to discuss future

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COLSTRIP, Mont. -

Governor Steve Bullock and Attorney General Tim Fox created the Colstrip Community Impact Advisory Group to help the Community of Colstrip prepare for its future.

Monday marked the first meeting of the group at City Hall allowing people from the community to present their concerns to the advisory group.

During the discussion, a question was raised regarding the water supplied to Colstrip.

Rick Harbin is an active member of the community and says Colstrip gets their water from the Yellowstone River through two pipelines supplied by the power companies.

Harbin wants to know what happens to that water when the units shut down. "If say tomorrow, 1 or 2 walked away. If the 23 inch unit of water wasn't being used and units 1 and 2 wasn't paying that, who's gonna pick up the cost of water that we're gonna need."

Mayor John Williams says Monday's meeting is very important to answer those kinds of questions  "The fact that this was held in Colstrip speaks volumes for the state's concern of Colstrip."

The Montana Department of Labor Industry granted Colstrip $4.6 million dollars to help retrain coal workers who will be out of a job when units 1 and 2 close in 2022.

Two million dollars from the grant is immediately available but the question is: how will the advisory group know where the money will go if there's no plan in place of informing those will be let go and who will stay.

Community member Gary Parry says, "it's difficult because, four years out, you don't want to go to somebody and say oh by the way, in four years, you're losing your job. So it's a real touchy thing but it's a catch-22. If we don't get that figured out, the retraining dollars go away."

Mayor Williams says the focus of this meeting was to listen to public concerns about the power plant closures so they can make sure all angles are covered before making a draft plan for the future of Colstrip. 

He says even though there was no plan formed Monday, the meeting was a good starting place. "Units 1 and 2 are going to close so what can we do to best offset the impact associated with that closure and perhaps use this as a catalyst for moving our community forward." 

There will be a community meeting before the next advisory group meets in February.

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