The 154 megawatt coal-fired Corette Plant in Billings will be mothballed in April 2015 due to a culmination of economic conditions and governmental regulatory impacts.
Big Sky Economic Development was quick to call together business and civic leaders, last week, after PPL announced the pending decision. Local officials asked if there is anything the community can do to continue the plant's operation. Closing the plant, which has been in operation since 1968, would lay off 35 people and perhaps more in secondary businesses.
In a perfect case scenario the proposed highway between Lockwood and the Heights, called the Northend Bypass, could be open to the public by 2020, said Stefan Streeter, District Manager for the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT). Streeter was one of several MDT officials at the Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting last Tuesday, with the request that the PCC place the project as a top priority for Yellowstone County on its transportation plan.
A problem of overwhelming smells and noise is still plaguing the neighborhood along Orchard Lane in Billings. Another round of complaints from two citizens in the neighborhood prompted Yellowstone County Commissioners to pursue further what can be done about the operations of Highlands Project, a manufacturer of storage tanks and silos used in fracking in the oil fields.
"Timing is everything and this is just poor timing," Yellowstone County Commissioners told the Planning Department regarding proposed fee increases.
Planning staff proposed an across the board fee increase of four percent. They also brought to commissioners a complete revamping of subdivision review fees which reflected, in some cases increases of more than 300 percent, in an effort to impose the full cost of plat reviews on developers.
NorthWestern Energy presented Yellowstone County Commissioners with a $35,135.88 rebate for participating in the utility's E+ Efficiency Plus Commercial Lighting Rebate Program. The funds will go into MetraPark's budget, and the operating benefits go to Rimrock Auto Arena, since the project is expected to reduce the facility's electric costs by about $24,000, annually.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has thrown a monkey wrench into the completion of the new Lockwood Sewer. As the last phase of construction nears completion, a portion of it which is located next to a Superfund Site won't get completed because the EPA has refused to give the Lockwood Water and Sewer District a permit to dig.
The belt tightens for Yellowstone County government. County officials were rather surprised to learn that the taxable value of property in Yellowstone increased only 0.68 percent – considerably less than in the past. Last year the rate of growth was 2.2 percent.
Certified taxable valuation of new construction for Yellowstone County was $7.2 million for fiscal 2011-12 compared to almost $9.5 million last year.
CHS Inc. is appealing to the Montana Supreme Court a district court ruling that sided with the state Department of Revenue in a property tax dispute over the company's Laurel oil refinery.
The company filed a notice of appeal June 21, challenging District Judge Susan Watters' April 20 ruling granting the Revenue Department's request for summary judgment.
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103