NorthWestern gas plant proposal stalls over city's objections

NorthWestern Energy’s plans to build a gas-fired power plant have stalled in Laurel, where neighbors say the generator will ruin their quality of life.

Last week, the Laurel City Council again delayed votes critical to the plant’s development and formed a fact-finding commission to square the utility’s statements with neighborhood concerns about noise and pollution.

“We represent the citizens. The citizens have continued to come into this chamber and speak against this plant,” said Heidi Sparks, a City Council member explaining that after doing her own research, if she had to vote today, she would vote no.

NorthWestern, which announced its intention to build the gas plant eight months ago, still needs several things from the City of Laurel, including a zoning change and an easement to bore a natural gas pipeline beneath Riverside Park, which offers the community its best public access to the Yellowstone River.

City staff have warned the council not to put the cart before the horse by granting NorthWestern the needed changes without first annexing the property to assure the power plant’s property taxes, estimated at $10 million a year, mostly flow to Laurel.

NorthWestern, which did not respond to an interview request for this article, assures Laurel there will

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