The house owners entered arbitration within the Spokane district of Washington Superior Courtroom earlier this 12 months, as NorthWestern Power sought to find out each how house owners determine plant restore choices and whether or not a unanimous determination was required to shut Colstrip.
Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, a Nice Falls Republican who carried the regulation adjustments by way of the Home, likened the dispute between exiting house owners and NorthWestern as a divorce with the departing partner keying the household automobile on the best way out. He accused the Pacific Northwest house owners of conspiring to power the plant into mechanical failure, which was the premise behind the necessity for Senate Invoice 266, empowering the legal professional basic to dictate repairs. Senate Invoice 265 forcing energy plant disputes into Montana courts was additionally a Fitzpatrick invoice.
Fitzpatrick, the son of NorthWestern’s former director of presidency affairs John Fitzpatrick, accused the Pacific Northwest house owners of misleading practices. The declare made all through the legislative course of ignored that the enterprise contract, agreed to by the house owners, allowed the Pacific Northwest house owners to take the steps they selected.
Avista Corp. had cautioned Gov. Gianforte towards signing the Fitzpatrick payments into regulation. In a press launch regarding the lawsuit, Avista Vice President Jason Thackston mentioned the lawsuit was about defending Avista prospects and shareholders.
“As we shared in a letter to Governor Gianforte final month, we imagine Senate Payments 265 and 266 disrupt a contract between and among the many Colstrip house owners that has existed for practically 40 years,” Thackston mentioned. “We urged Governor Gianforte to veto the payments as a result of we imagine they’re each illegal and unconstitutional, and we now have pursued authorized motion as we speak with different Colstrip house owners to guard the rights of our prospects and shareholders beneath the prevailing contract.”