Governor Mark Gordon signed a bill into law today seeking to extend the life-span of coal plants. A report from the Rocky Mountain Power’s owner last year found more than half of its coal units were more expensive to run than with alternative energies. That made some state legislators nervous about early closures of plants.
Afton Senator Dan Dockstader, the bill’s sponsor, said there are 2,227 people associated with mining jobs.
"I thought about their families, and I thought about their communities. And I thought this is worth putting into the legislative process, into our statutes to try to save jobs," Dockstader said.
At the signing, Gordon said Wyoming is working hard to lessen the environmental impact of coal.
"Wyoming is leading the way with new technology, ways to address this issue that don’t put people out of work and that don’t follow just political fashion," Gordon said.
Critics of the bill say it threatens land reclamation and workers' benefits.
Connie Wilbert, Sierra Club's Wyoming chapter director, said, "What this bill would do is lock Wyoming ratepayers into much higher prices for their electricity for years to come."
The bill takes effect on July 1.