Northwestern has proposed a 500 KV transmission line across SW montana to export electricity to larger out of state markets. The current promotional info from Northwestern implies this will be a "green line" to export wind power to, for example, California. However, the line was first proposed earlier for transmitting coal power.
This transmission line will require 100's of miles of large transmission towers to cross much private property and travel along some of the mostly rural and unindustrialized SW Montana valleys, Including the Jefferson River valley--which today looks little different than when first traveled by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Northwestern says the line will cost about 1 billion dollars. Currently, Northwestern has been surprisingly uncooperative regarding establishing workable generation contracts with the few wind farms in Montana we currently have, so there are questions just where Northwestern plans to actually contract so much additional electrical generation for export. How can such a huge outlay of capital be based on future wind power growth with the current track record?
Northwestern has over 1 billion $'s in debt and is trying to vastly increase its business infrastructure with a huge new transmission line to big, new (for Northwestern), distant markets--yet the source for the power generation doesn't ring true.
Is this really a coal power export line? And hasn't California "decreed" that all imported power has to be green?