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Canadian government gives first permit to cross-border power line

Apr 6, 2007 - The Associated Press

GREAT FALLS, Mont. A proposed cross-border power transmission line connecting electric systems in Alberta and Montana has cleared a major regulatory hurdle in Canada.

The National Energy Board, Canada's equivalent of the U.S. Department of Energy, on Wednesday issued a permit authorizing construction and operation of the line in Alberta.

The board's environmental screening report says the transmission line is not likely to cause significant environmental harm.

The approval is one of two clearances required in Canada. In the United States, the project needs permits from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the federal Department of Energy.

"The permit certainly constitutes a significant approval of our facility, and it significantly moves our project forward because of that," said Bob Williams of Montana Alberta Tie Ltd., the developer based in Calgary, Alberta.

The proposed 215-mile, 230-kilovolt transmission line would be a conduit for 600 megawatts of electricity, with 300 megawatts traveling in each direction, between the Alberta Interconnected Electric System and the electric transmission network in Montana. Building the line is projected to cost about $120 million.

Four shippers who have purchased long-term contracts plan wind farms in north-central Montana.

The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, similar to the Montana DEQ, still must rule on the location of the line.

On the Montana side of the border, the DEQ is accepting public comments on the proposed Montana Alberta Tie routes until April 30. The U.S. Department of Energy permit is required because the line would cross an international border.

Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com