Regulatory uncertainty and environmental lawsuits forced developers of the Highwood Generating Station to halt work on a controversial planned coal-fired generating plant, replacing it with one powered by natural gas and wind turbines, reports the Billings Gazette.
On Friday, board members of four south-central Montana cooperatives unanimously voted to build a 120-megawat natural-gas-fired plant that will be operational by 2011.
Tim Gregori, the plant developer and chief executive of the Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative, said that coal remains his first choice for producing cheap electricity, but that they just had to move forward with what they can get built.
The Cooperative, which is made up of a handful of rural electric cooperatives, has spent $40 million on the Highwood coal effort over the last five or six years, Gregori said.
Pending costs of the plant have reportedly nearly doubled from $456 million to nearly $900 million.
Recently the Senate proposed to use $4.6 billion of President Obama’s stimulus plan towards coal-related projects.