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BOISE -- Idaho Power Co. can spend tens of millions to clean up its Wyoming coal-fired power plant and expect ratepayers to cover the project's cost, but regulators want quarterly updates on whether these emission-control investments continue to make sense as federal environmental rules change.

Announced Monday by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, the decision aims to ensure Idaho's biggest utility isn't locked into the estimated $130 million project if alternatives to coal emerge as better for ratepayers.

Provided Idaho Power acts in good faith, PUC spokesman Gene Fadness said the utility would be allowed to recover costs from ratepayers, even if upgrades were abandoned.

The decision comes over protests of environmental groups including the Sierra Club.

They demanded Idaho Power invest in renewables and reduce demand, not prolong its coal plants.

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