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Recovery Act Helps to Fund Transmission Line for Montana Wind Power

September 30, 2009

DOE announced on September 16 that a major transmission line to carry power from proposed wind power facilities near Cut Bank, Montana, will draw on funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Western Area Power Administration will use its borrowing authority under the Recovery Act to help build the $213 million Montana-Alberta Tie Limited (MATL) transmission project between Great Falls, Montana, and Lethbridge, Alberta. Almost two-thirds of the 214-mile transmission line will be located on U.S. soil, allowing for the continued expansion of renewable energy production. Western will provide up to $161 million of the project costs through its borrowing authority under the Recovery Act, allowing construction to begin this fall.

The 230-kilovolt MATL transmission project is scheduled to be energized in early 2010. It will be capable of carrying 300 megawatts of power in each direction from the proposed wind facility near the state's northern border, delivering up to 600 megawatts of wind power, which is enough to power 300,000 average U.S. homes. In mid-September, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer cemented a deal for NaturEner USA to build an $800 million, 300-megawatt wind facility to take advantage of the new transmission line. See the DOE press release, the MATL Web site, and the governor's press release.

Meanwhile, TransCanada is proposing to build two 500-kilovolt direct-current transmission lines to carry power from south-central Montana and southeast Wyoming to a point south of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Zephyr and Chinook projects will enable the development of more than 6,000 megawatts of wind power, delivering the power from high-quality wind resources in Montana and Wyoming to power markets in Arizona, California, and Nevada. The company will open the planned transmission capacity to bidding by potential project developers in mid-October. TransCanada intends to push ahead with the transmission line projects if it receives sufficient firm commitments from developers looking to take advantage of its planned transmission capacity. See the TransCanada press release (PDF 46 KB) and Web site. Download Adobe Reader.