Work delayed on power line from Alberta to Montana

MONTANA/ALBERTA - Construction of a 214-mile power line expected to carry wind-generated electricity between central Montana and Alberta has been delayed by at least five months because of appeals in the United States and Canada.

Bob Williams, vice president of regulatory affairs for Montana Alberta Tie Ltd., a subsidiary of Tonbridge Power Inc., said construction has been pushed back from March to this fall.

"We continue to be very excited about this project and the benefits it will bring to Montanans and Albertans," he said.

About 130 miles of the $140 million transmission line would cut through Cascade, Teton, Pondera and Glacier counties. It would carry up to 300 megawatts of power in each direction between Great Falls and Lethbridge, Alberta.

But developers in north-central Montana are waiting for the line's construction before proceeding with proposed wind farms, and some landowners are objecting to the locations of the line's poles.

Williams said Canadian landowners have appealed a construction permit issued by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, and the outcome is now in the hands of a three-judge panel at the Alberta Court of Appeal.

Scott Stenbeck, an attorney for the landowners, said his clients disagree with the board's stance that the line couldn't be moved outside a two-kilometer corridor set by the National Energy Board. The landowners also want MATL, a private company, to prove that the project is in the public's interest.

The proposed transmission line also has faced opposition in Montana, where three landowners are appealing the route to the state Board of Environmental Review. Those cases are scheduled to be heard in May.


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