Montana governor announces multibillion dollar
exist. In addition to the state and federal permits
that would be required, the company will also need
to secure agreements from utilities to buy energy
over the line and from companies that want to build
the wind power plants and expensive plants to turn
coal gas into electricity.
"But it starts here today," Schweitzer said.
The line, which will be dedicated to exporting electricity,
would carry enough power for roughly 3.5 million
people, or about 3,500 megawatts, Thompson said.
It would travel west from somewhere in eastern Montana,
turn south near Townsend and go through Idaho on
its way to Nevada. Connectors from the Las Vegas
area would run to Los Angeles and Phoenix, the governor
Schweitzer and Thompson said the transmission line
is needed to kick start separate plans to build
big power plants.
Thompson said the line could compete with others
being planned to run from Wyoming to the same energy
markets. He said his company chose Montana because
it believes the state has vast energy reserves and
likes the support that Schweitzer has offered.
The governor said the state Department of Environmental
Quality will work quickly to process needed permits.
He also said he has signed a letter of understanding
with the governors of Idaho and Nevada to help coordinate
permitting for the line.
Schweitzer said the proposal will challenge energy
companies and utilities to start building power
generation in Montana.
Jon Walters with the International Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers, who also attended Monday's announcement,
said workers will do everything possible to make
sure the project gets built on time and under budget.
It was Schweitzer's second major energy announcement
this month. The governor previously unveiled plans
made by a group of companies to build the nation's
first coal-to-liquid fuel facilities at the Bull
Mountain mine 14 miles south of Roundup.
The Northern Plains Resource Council, which has
been skeptical about the large-scale coal development
such projects could spur, did not immediately return
a call seeking comment Monday.