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Mountain States Intertie Transmission Line (Idaho, Montana)

STATUS:  In progress with opposition

TYPE: Transmission

OPPOSITION:  Local residents

PROSPECTS:  Indeterminate

BACKGROUND:  NorthWestern Energy has proposed to build the Mountain States Intertie Project (MSTI), a 430-mile, 500-kilovolt overhead transmission line carrying renewable energy from wind energy projects in Montana to Idaho.  The line will run from Townsend, Montana to Jerome, Idaho.  The project is estimated to cost just over $1 billion to construct.  According to NorthWestern Energy, construction will result in 1,706 new jobs and operation will result in 271 new long-term jobs. Indirect and Induced Impacts will result in a total of 3,211 new local jobs during construction and 547 new local long-term jobs.  Energy carried by the line will be generated primarily from renewable sources, and electricity transmitted will help the region meet renewable electricity mandates. 

Work began on an environmental impact statement in July 2008.  NorthWestern has held open house forums for residents in 2010.

Opposition to MSTI has been substantial.  Local residents along the proposed route oppose the project because they are frustrated about the “lack of notification” by the company to landowners and neighbors.  They have voiced concerns over the economic impact, the quality of life, health, and aesthetic impact.  A member of the Public Service Commission has stated that he intends to kill the project because it is “nothing more than a way to drain inexpensive Montana-produced power out of the state and into lucrative California markets.” PPL Montana has complained that the project intends to gain a monopoly on transmission in the state.  Project developers have experienced significant setbacks due to opposition and expect at least “half a decade” before the project is completed.

SOURCES: MSTI: http://www.msti500kv.com/;
http://www.msti500kv.com/docs/ValueToMT_July2009.pdf; http://www.msti500kv.com/Recent_Events;
Montana Department of Environmental Quality: http://deq.mt.gov/MFS/MSTI/mstiapplication.mcpx;
The Montana Standard: http://www.mtstandard.com/articles/2009/06/05/area/hjjajdjejjgegg.txt;
The Madisonian: http://www.madisoniannews.com/2010/07/commissioners-get-more-information-on-msti-plan-public-meeting/

Last Updated:  December 9, 2010