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Sidney , Montana
July 21, 2019     Sidney Herald
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July 21, 2019

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AI4 SIDNEY HERALD. SUNDAYJULY 2|.2019 YOUR NEWS FROM PAGE1 about MDU’s decision from Neigum, MDU’s president and CEO Nicole Kivisto and Jay Skabo, vice president of electric supply, community members had the chance to discuss the information. Commissioner Duane Mitch- ell led the charge. “I know that figures don’t lie, but liars do figure,” Mitch- ell said. In a cost comparison chart presented by MDU, wind energy had an estimated cost of $25.63 per mega watt hour (MWh), compared to $53.76/ MWh for Lewis and Clark. “How much tax incentive makes that as low as it is and how long do we have the tax in- centives for the wind farms?” Neigum said the tax incen- tives have a 10-year expiration date. Without the tax incentive, the cost would be estimated at $35-$40/MWh. “The thing I want to clarify is that 10-year benefit is baked into the $25.63, so in other words, that’s a levelized cost on average across that whole 25— year period,” Kivisto said. “I understand that, but here’s the concern I have,” Mitchell said. “When these tax incen- tives leave the wind farms and the solar panels and all this unsustainable energy, what is going to happen to your oper- ation when you lose this tax incentive? “It’s a fictitious number, be- cause we as tax payers are paying that tax incentive. So we’re getting hit both ways. You say you’re saving us $20 million dollars as customers, but how much is it costing us in tax incentives for that fake number?” Other concerns brought up at the meeting included the loss of MDU employees, the Savage mine, Sidney Sugars and those tax dollars. “We have 24 employees that are fixing to either leave this town or find different employ- ment,” Mitchell said. “Accord- ing to the chamber of comv meme. every dollar earned in a community turns six to seven times. How much is that going to cost Sidney?” “We understand the impact PHOTO BY AMY EFTA Rep. Joel Krautter asked MDU about the impact to rate payers for the demolition of the Lewis and Clark Station in Sidney during the com- munity meeting Monday, July 15 in Sidney. to the community,” Kivisto said. “I come back to our ob- jective as a company: safe, reli- able, cost-eifective. I’m staring at these numbers saying I can do better for my customers. My job is to make that decision.” Kivisto said they were there to start the dialogue and hear what solutions the community had come up with. “It looks like you should have started the dialogue way before now because the gate’s already open,” Commissioner Loren Young said. MDU revealed they would be demolishing the Lewis and Clark Station. Rep. Krautter wanted to know what the es— timated cost would be to rate payers. “We’re still working on the estimates for that,” Neigum said. Krautter asked about any ex- ploration of selling the Lewis and Clark Station versus dem- olition. Neigum said if a buyer were to come in, they would be in the same economic position as MDU. “We have not been inquired by anyone else and there real- ly isn’t a lot of interest by oth- ers of wanting to come in and own assets like this, especially when they’re 61 years old,” Ne— gium said. That topic came up again at the hands of Public Service Commissioner Randy Pinocci. Over in Colstrip, Pinocci said NorthWestern Energy is pur- chasing a portion of Colstrip for $1 under the support of Senate Bill 278. The bill aims to save jobs, preserve the econ- omy and provide Montanans with low-cost power. Pinocci wanted to know why some- thing similar wasn’t possible for the Sidney coal plant. It’s a question that keeps coming across his desk. “Why don’t we do that here in this case? This give us the possibility of the plant con— tinuing,” he said. “Rate payers will be charged with tearing it down. Save the cost, save jobs in Sidney and Savage and have more base—load power.” Pinocci explained that last winter, Northwestern Energy didn’t produce enough power in one of the cold months, so they had to go to the open market to buy power. They paid $900/MWh and it ended up costing them approximate- ly $20 million for one month. They came to the Public Ser- vice Commission to raise their rates to make up the cost. “Northwest Energy would have bought every penny that Sidney had to produce and that price there is tremendously lower than what they had to pay during that cold snap,” Pi— nocci said. “I want to explain to people why the western part of the state thinks this is a huge mistake to close this plant down, because of what ruesnAv happened to Northwest Ener- gy. If we lose Savage and we can’t fund the school and we lose the jobs, we might be bet- ter off paying a little bit more for our electricity. It might pen- cil ou Pinocci said he wanted peo- ple to understand when the wind is blowing, wind-generat- ed energy is cheap, but there’s an obvious flip side to that. “When the wind shuts off, you have to turn on a turbine to make up that energy,” he said. “That is more expensive than wind energy and it costs consumers more when that wind shuts o .” In a phone interview the day ‘ after the meeting, Pinocci said he made a commitment to see areas like Colstrip and Sid- ney through losing their coal plants. “I’m trying to represent the people of the district. This is a really important issue,” he said. “We are going to close a coal-fire plant that’s been in Montana for many, many years. I made the promise that I would watch things closely. That’s why I was at that meet- ing... There’s not much we can do to convince MDU. They made their decision.” Kivisto said she knows it feels like they are late to the conversation, but the age of the units was something to keep in mind. “Even if today we were to say, ‘We feel like it’s in the best interest to continue to operate these units,’ we have to con- tinue to put capital in them, to maintain them and they are already 60 years old,” she said. Pinocci said the answer was simple. “Is a new plant more efficient? Of course, that’s technology. But don’t tell me this plant has to be shut down because of age. Any part can be remade. The plant can last forever.” Sidney Mayor Rick Norby spoke to his frustrations with MDU at the meeting. “I mean no disrespect for what I’m going to say,” he said. “I sit here and I listen to you say you do what’s best for cus- tomers in this area. The out- come from this closing — do you really believe it’s the best thing for people in this com- munity? I don’t buy that. For me to look at what the domi- no effects are going to be and what’s going to happen here... Everybody in this room who lives here locally, I guarantee is willing to pay more for elec- tricity if they don’t lose the tax base, Savage school, things like that... I have trouble lis- tening to you say that you’re doing what’s best for your customers in this area. Every- thing is a figure. A dollar fig- ure. These are real lives this is going to effect. It’s devastating. This isn’t what’s best for these customers.” Kivisto said while she ap— preciates Mayor Norby’s opin- ion, the decision wasn’t just about Sidney, but about MDU’s 130,000 other customers too. “Everybody that builds a business knows there has to be money put back into it to sur- vive,” Norby said. “I can’t walk away from this meeting feeling good about this. It’s just wrong. I honestly believe if the com- missioners and the mayor and council wouldn’t have signed a resolution, you wouldn’t be here today to even explain yourse Fairview Mayor Brian Bie- ber asked if the decision to close the Lewis and Clark Sta- tion was the result of pressure from environmental groups. Kivisto said it was not a fuel source decision, but an eco- nomic one. “That being said, I will tell you we have investors that have said because you own coal in your portfolio, we’re not going to invest in MDU stock. But that is not factored into our decision to do this,” she said. The answers ultimately of- fered by MDU to relieve some of the impact to the county are the Just Transition Fund, which helps coal-affected com munities, helping the coun- try treasurer with tax reve- nues and keeping a balanced budget. - “We’ve started to do some homework around some of these items, but wanted to have this meeting so we could hear from you about what ideas you m‘ thave,” Kivisto said. he resounding idea from community members? Don’t close the Lewis and Clark Station. WEDNESDAY“"‘“THunsnAn, that is used fl‘equently.” Jason Schrader, a citizen in attendance of the meet- ings, told Mintz there was no reason to not paint the crosswalk and he didn’t know why it was an issue. “Council has expressed they want it done, so have citizens. Why don’t you do it?” Schrader asked. “This is what the people want. This is your job... All I’m hearing from you is argu- ments. We are the tax pay- ers. We are the income mak— ers. We want you to do this study, we want it painted.” Mintz said if Schrader didn’t understand why they couldn’t, then he didn’t do a good job explaining it. “You make it sound like it’s really simple and we don't give a rip about these peoples’ Mintz said. “Our concern is there are 4 safety implications — long term — to putting some- thing in there that is less than ideal for that type of situation.” No action was taken by council at the meeting, due to jurisdictional restraints. Mintz said city council could put something in writing that he can take to MTDOT and see what could be done. COUNCIL ' ‘- HIGH“ '1 HIGH . HIGH HlGH . ,syantEH FROMPAGH ’ . , v “We ‘10!“ make rules 0 Low ‘ View 'LOW Low" LOW up just to make rules up,” ' Mintz said. “Physically, I painting a crosswalk there ~ , _ _ _ is nothing to us. We would Mostly sunny and Sunshine and Mostly sunny and nice Partial sunshine Sunny gladly do it if it was as sim~ ' pleas that” Asclose to this delightful comfortable is to Central. our trafficen- ENE 4-8 SE 7-14 SE 7-14 SE 7-14. ' NW 7-14 fifafigt Sunrise Sunset Sunrise Sunset Sunrise Sunset Sunrise Sunset SUnrise- Sunset get them to go to Central 5:20 am. 8:46 pm. 5:21 am. 8:45 pm. 5:22 am. 8:43pm. 5:24 am. 8:42 pm. 5:25 am. 8:41 pm. where the traffic is being stopped. Saudies show the: WEEKLY ALMANAO UV INDEX SOLUNAB TABLE gfiifiripress w“ Sidney through Thursday Tue_ wed_ the solunar period indicates peak feeding times for counCil member Kysa W fISh and QISZjor Minor Major—Minor Rasmussen said it takes a ' I r N l h «w . ting time togrfi m: m 050')! anges mm“ 'gh Norma ow The Eigherr‘ the Acculgeathfixom UlenltlexTM Sun. 3:20a 9:30a 3:41 p 9:51 p rsectlonan w es eun- num er,t egreatert e nee or eye an s in I derstands both sides, no one 89 H protection. 0-2'Low; 3-5 Moderate; 6-7 High; 8-10 yon' if?) isaslémgfoflgclfia Very High;11+ Extreme. 5:34a 11:45a 5:553 ' p “I on’t ' t t there’s ' _ , _ v_ ---- alotbemg asked.” Rasmus- COMFORT INDEXT'Vl Thu. 6:17a 12:04a . 6:39p 12:28p sen said. “We aren’t asking ' for every other block. We sun' Tue', WEd' I are asking for one block, V ’ ,. 7" .13: ' Last New First Fu” which is an intersection ., 7,12 m3 m4 ms 7’16 7,17. 7’18 Comfort Index takes into account how the weather ' “f '1 ' ' PRECIPITATION (inches) will feel based on a combination of factors. A rating Dany totals Nomal of 10 feels very comfortable while a rating of 0 feels . o w w very uncomfortable. Ju 24 3,7, ----- -— ~ REGIONAL-CITIES IiZIZZiIILiIIZZZZZZII; 1:112:31: sun- M°"- Tue- 03 City‘ Hi/Lo W Hi/Lo W Hi/Lo W 8%:“W “““““““““““““““““““““ “ff: Bainville 79/55 5 86/61 5 88/63 5 0:0 maw-n—wWM—M m”; Cartwright 79/55 s 86/61 5 88/63 5 0.03 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.70 0.12 0.00 Culbertson 79/55 s 87/61 s 89/63 s 7/12 7/13 7/14 7/15 7/16 7/17 7/18 Fairview ‘ 79/54 5 35/50 S 88/52 5 Month to date ‘ .232 GlaSgow ‘- 81/57 s 89/65 5 94/67 pc Norinal month to date 1.67 Glendive 3 80/54 5 88/62 5 90/64 5 9 Year to date - 8.29 Lambert , r ; 18/54 s 86/61 5 88/63 5 Normal year to date 8.90 Medicine Lake ’80/56 5 86/59 5 89/62 5 , Savage 80/55 s 88/62 5 90/63 5 Forec’ and graphics provided by Williston 79/56 s 85/61 5 88/62 s AccuWéath‘er, Inértoézm 9: I Weather brought to you by: if ‘ i it“ \ Jul 31 A93 @AcnuWeather DOWNLOADTHEFREEAPP Aug 15 Wed. Thu. . Hi/Lo W ‘HiILo W 90/65 pc 87/56 5 90/65 pc 87/57 5‘ 91/65 pc 87/55 3 90/65 pc 87/57 ,3 94/65 pc 88/59 '5 92/65 pc 88/62 s 91/65 pc 87/58 5 91/62 pc 87/53 5 93/64 pc 88/58 5 90/65 pc 86/59 5 Weatheer): s-sunny, pc-partly cloudy, c-cloudy, sh-showers, t-thunderstorms, r-rain, sf-snow flurries, sn-snow, i-ice. -..:'J For more information see l 815 3rd St NE, Sidney, MT 59270 t (406) 433-5055