- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The Washington Senate has passed a bill that would give a sales tax break to the state’s only coal-fired power plant if and when it converts to using biomass or natural gas for electric generation.

Senate Bill 5575, sponsored by Republican Sen. John Braun of Centralia, passed Friday on a 46-2 vote. It now goes to the House for consideration.

The bill would allow the TransAlta coal-fired plant in Centralia to receive a sales tax break on the construction of a new or renovated facility once it is converted to natural-gas or biomass facility.

Supporters say the measure would help retain jobs that otherwise would be lost as the coal-fired plant is shut down. The first unit is scheduled to be shut down in 2020 and the final one in 2025.

Sen. Sharon Nelson, a Democrat from Maury Island, criticized the measure as a corporate tax giveaway.

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