Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. (MATL) has filed a facility application with the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (AEUB) to build and operate a 347 km, 300 MW bi-directional power transmission line between Lethbridge, Alberta, and Great Falls, Montana. The line, which will tie together the Alberta and Montana power grids, will be the first cross-border merchant transmission line between Canada and the United States. Applications have also been filed with Canadian federal, Montana and U.S. federal regulators.
"The tie line means new wind farm projects can move forward," said Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. President Lorry Wilson. Nearly 50% of capacity is under long-term contract to two Montana wind generation projects. Other wind power producers are currently bidding on the remaining capacity during an open season, which expires on June 30, 2006. Three hundred megawatts is enough energy to power about 300,000 households.
The Alberta portion of the line will terminate at a new electrical substation located in the county of Lethbridge, approximately 10 km northeast of the city of Lethbridge. One hundred-forty kilometers of the line will run through Alberta, crossing the border 20 km west of Coutts.
"Our project means a more reliable electrical system for both Albertans and Montanans, with no impact on current power transmission rates and no government subsidies," said Wilson.
Montana Alberta Tie will build and operate the line. Construction cost is estimated at over $100 million (CDN). Final negotiations with suppliers are currently being completed.
The AEUB will decide in the next several weeks whether to hold a public hearing on the facility application. Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. filed its construct and operate application with the National Energy Board of Canada in December 2005, and the Alberta Electrical System Operator in conjunction with MATL filed a needs application with the AEUB in April 2006.
"Today's filing is he last, and focuses the regulatory approval process," said Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. Vice President Regulatory Bob Williams. The facility application includes changes to the proposed route reflecting landowner consultations, and to bypass the environmentally sensitive Milk River Ridge. "We are committed to being a good neighbour and working with the community," said Williams.
Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. has established community advisory committees in Alberta and Montana to provide stakeholders with an additional forum to present their concerns and resolve issues. The Canadian advisory committee that meets on July 12 will be chaired by Howard Tennant C.M. Ph.D.(president and vice chancellor emeritus, University of Lethbridge).
Following regulatory approval in Alberta and Montana, construction is planned to begin in the fall of 2006 and continue through the winter. Start-up is scheduled in the first half of 2007. The project will stimulate over $1 billion of wind farm development in the region.