Montana tie-line approval

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Montana Alberta Tie Ltd (MATL), owned by Toronto-based Tonbridge Power, has received a permit to construct and license to operate the Canadian portion of a 230 kV merchant transmission line stretching 346 kilometres from Lethbridge, Alberta, across the international border to Great Falls, Montana. The line will provide access to the grid for a number of proposed major wind farms in northern Montana, where the lack of high capacity transmission has stymied the ability of developers to bring projects on line. MATL has sold long term capacity rights to four companies with 600 MW worth of wind projects under development that will tie into the line at about its midpoint, with half the power flowing north into Alberta and half south to Great Falls. The final permit for the new transmission line was granted by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board. It had held off giving final permission until MATL had held further discussions with affected landowners along the approved route. The line has already received the go-ahead from Canada's National Energy Board and the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but is still awaiting release of a joint Montana Department of Environmental Quality and US Department of Energy final environmental impact assessment. That report, which will identify the final route on the US side, will clear the way for the issuing of final US permits approving construction and operation of the MATL line in Montana. The line still faces some hurdles, though. A group of Alberta farmers who hope to halt construction of the line were granted permission to appeal the project in July before the Alberta Court of Appeals. A hearing is scheduled for January.

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