Gov. Mark Gordon gives his inauguration speech at the Cheyenne Civic Center Jan. 7. The governor has signed a bill that requires utilities to try to sell coal-fired power plants before closing them.

CHEYENNE (AP) — Gov. Mark Gordon has signed into a law a measure that aims to keep Wyoming's coal-fired power plants online and in business by requiring a utility to try to sell the facility first before decommissioning it.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports Gordon on Friday signed Senate File 159, which was sponsored by Republican Sen. Dan Dockstader, of Afton.

It requires power companies that want to decommission a coal-fired plant to seek a buyer first. If a new company bought the plant, the bill requires the utility that sold the plant to buy back the power, even if a cheaper source is available.

Dockstader says the bill was about protecting small communities with coal-fired plants.

But critics see the move as temporarily extending the life of outdated and costly coal-fired plants.

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