Skip Navigation Links Home » Industry Development Program » MT Transmission

Energy Transportation Infrastructure


Click the above image to view the Montana Energy Transmission brochure.

A robust and reliable infrastructure system is required to move Montana's energy resources--whether it is electrons, biofuels, oil, or coal--to the customers demanding the products' benefits. Electrical transmission lines are required to collect the energy generated from Montana's wind rich areas and move it to population centers demanding this clean energy. Pipelines are needed to safely and cost-effectively move Montana's raw oil and gas resources to refineries and later move finished products to the final consumer. Highways and railroads move Montana workers to the mine and later deliver the coal produced to the utility to produce electricity.

Facilitating transmission and infrastructure development has been a priority for IDP. We have coordinated development activities, funding requests to the federal government and advanced proposals to modify transmission rates that would benefit delivery of Montana wind to the Pacific Northwest. Montana has several transmission projects in development that will deliver electricity throughout the state and to the rest of the northwest.

Montana Alberta Tie Limited (MATL)

MATL is a 600 MW, 215 mile merchant (private) transmission line connecting Great Falls and Lethbridge, Alberta. The Governor’s Office tracked the state and federal permitting process closely which was completed in the fall of 2008. Groundbreaking on the $100 million 230-kilovolt line was held in October 2010 and the line is scheduled to be fully operational by mid 2011. MATL will result in the creation of 50 construction jobs, 10 permanent jobs, over a $1 billion in investment in transmission line / wind farms and will bring in $700,000 annually in property taxes. More importantly MATL provides transmission capacity for 600 MW of wind farm development that will bring in over $1 billion in investment to the state along with hundreds of construction job, dozens of permanent jobs, and millions in property taxes and lease payments.

Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI)

Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI) is a proposed project from NorthWestern Energy to provide 1,500 MW of new transmission capacity between the Townsend area and the Midpoint substation in Jerome County, Idaho. The company submitted permit applications to the state in July, 2008 for the proposed $1 billion project. MSTI is a 500 kV transmission line that would relieve constraints on higher-voltage systems and provide west coast market access to new Montana power generation projects. The project would be built between substations located near Townsend and Jerome Idaho with an in-service date of 2013. The construction of MSTI is estimated to result in 742 jobs and generate $12 -$37 million per year in property tax revenue, dependent on how facilities are classified by the Montana Department of Revenue.

BPA / Colstrip 500 kV Transmission Line Upgrades

NorthWestern Energy is commissioning technical studies on a project to increase the capacity of the existing high voltage transmission line from Colstrip to the west coast by up to 750 MW. NorthWestern is working with the Industry Development Program, Pacific Corp, Puget Sound Power, Portland Electric and BPA. Studies to move this first phase forward are expected to be done in early 2011.

Green Line

Tonbridge Power’s Green Line Project is a 230-500 kV transmission line under development to connect Great Falls to Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) transmission system. The line would link the MATL transmission line to BPA’s 500 kV transmission line either at Garrison or Townsend and would provide increased access to west coast markets. The final route for the approximately 100 mile project has not yet been determined but there have been requests for at least 850 MW of capacity on the line and MOUs have been signed with the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) to further review and evaluate this project.

Chinook

TransCanada’s Chinook Project, is a proposed 800 mile high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line proposed to connect Montana through Townsend to Las Vegas, Nevada, with target markets in Las Vegas, Southern California and Phoenix. The project will use 500kV bi-pole lines to minimize land impact and provide for a total capacity of 3000 MW. As of late 2010 TransCanada has been holding an open season for prospective power generators to reserve capacity on the line.

BPA / Colstrip 500 kV Transmission Line Upgrades

NorthWestern Energy is commissioning technical studies on a project to increase the capacity of the existing high voltage transmission line from Colstrip to the west coast by up to 750 MW. NorthWestern is working with the Industry Development Program, Pacific Corp, Puget Sound Power, Portland Electric and BPA. Studies to move this first phase forward are expected to be done in early 2011.

Pipelines

Keystone XL Pipeline

TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL), announced in the summer of 2008, will transport crude oil 1,980 miles, from Alberta through Montana and on to Nebraska. KXL is a 36” crude oil pipeline and will provide additional capacity of 510,000 barrels per day to the existing Keystone Pipeline, eventually ending in the US Gulf Coast. The pipeline will run 281 miles through Eastern Montana and total investment in Montana will be approximately $1 billion. The pipeline will benefit Bakken oil producers through an “on-ramp” to be located in Baker. The increased export capacity provides essential transportation infrastructure for Montana oil producers to get their product to market. Once completed KXL will result in state and local tax revenues of approximately $60 million annually.

Oneok NGL Pipeline

Oneok Partners, L.P. announced plans to build $595-$730 million of natural gas-to-liquids (NGL) projects from 2010 to 2013. One of these proposed projects is the Bakken NGL Pipeline that will initially transport up to 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) of unfractionated NGL production from Oneok Partners' abundant natural gas gathering and processing assests in the Bakken Shale formation and from third-party natural gas processing plants south through western North Dakota and eastern Montana down to Wyoming. The pipeline will start in Sydney, MT and go down to WY where it will connect to the Overland Pass Pipeline near Cheyenne, WY where the volumes will be delivered to Oneok Partners' existing NGL infrastructure in the central US. The pipeline is currently under construction and is expected to be in service during the first half of 2013.

Railroad

Tongue River Railroad

The Otter Creek coal mine will require the construction of a rail connection with the BNSF mainline in Miles City, which BNSF engineers estimated construction cost of the Tongue River Railroad to be about $470 to $490 million and take about three years.The Tongue River Railroad which will serve as an access point to Otter Creek coal is now federally permitted. BNSF, the owners of the proposed railroad serving the southeastern Montana's coal fields and Arch Coal who have leased the tracts from the state, put in their application to the federal government to build the 83-mile line that will be capable of transporting up to 20 million tons of coal annually. Construction of this line will begin with the development of the Otter Creek coal tracts.