Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. (MATL) has received the final Canadian go-ahead to build and operate a 346-km, 230-kV AC power line from Lethbridge, Alberta to Great Falls, Montana. On Jan. 31, the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) gave conditional approval to build the Canadian portion of the line.

"We are very pleased to receive the EUB's approval, a major step in moving the project forward," said Bob Williams, MATL vice president, regulatory. Among the conditions, the EUB has directed MATL to conduct further discussions with affected landowners to address the mitigation of specific impacts on individual landowners. "We heard the landowner concerns during the public hearing in November. We made commitments to the landowners on a resolution process and we are ready to live up to those commitments beginning immediately," said Mr. Williams. MATL must report back to the EUB by April 30, 2008.

The MATL line received National Energy Board (NEB) approval in April 2007 and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval in the United States in July 2006. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is the final regulatory approval required before construction can begin. An Environmental Impact Assessment is scheduled for release in the next several weeks followed by a public comment period before the DOE can release its decision.

The MATL line ties together the Alberta and Montana power grids bringing much needed transmission capacity to Alberta and providing access to the grid for a number of proposed major wind power projects in Northern Montana. As a merchant power line MATL will pay to build and operate the line. There will be no cost to utility rate payers.