Senators, Schweitzer: Montana-Alberta energy line one step closer to reality

MATL Project Will Be First Cross-border ‘Merchant Transmission Line’ Between U.S., Canada

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus, Jon Tester and Governor Brian Schweitzer today announced that the first-ever U.S.-Canada energy transmission line is one step closer to a reality after the Department of Energy announced the completion of the environmental impact study, clearing the way for the project to move forward.

The Montana-Alberta Transmission Line project or MATL, is a owned and run by Tonbridge Corporation, a Canadian-based energy firm. Tonbridge Corporation wants to build a 203 mile, 230 kilovolt line transmission line between Great Falls, Montana and Lethbridge, Alberta. Baucus, Tester and Schweitzer said that the project could bring $1 billion of clean, renewable energy projects to Montana.  The line would be dominated by new wind-powered electricity. The cost of the project would be approximately $130 million.

Montana, U.S. and Canadian officials must approve of the project in order for it to get underway. MATL was waiting to move forward until the U.S. Dept. of Energy signed off on it. DOE completed its environmental impact study, which measures the possible effects the projects could have on the surrounding area, and now has cleared the way for the next phase of the project. Baucus, Tester, and Schweitzer were instrumental in getting the DOE to complete its study. All three made phone calls and held meetings with officials, including Secretary Bodman, to urge the DOE to move quickly.

"As a state and a country, we need to boost energy production here at home. MATL would help provide Montanans with reliable, affordable energy, create more good-paying jobs and boost our state's economy," Baucus said. "I'm proud to work together with Brian to move this project forward. It would be a huge asset to our state. I'll continue to work with Brian to make this project a reality."

"As America moves towards a clean, green energy future, our state will lead the way," Tester said.  "This project will create good-paying jobs and put money in the pocketbooks of rural Montana."

Governor Schweitzer spoke with Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman on Monday and urged him to complete the draft EIS, "I appreciate the urgency at which Secretary Bodman responded to our request," said Governor Schweitzer. "Montana is on the move. All 300 MW of the northbound transmission capacity on MATL is contracted with significant Montana wind projects that will result in jobs for areas of Montana that too often suffer from economic dislocation. This is a positive step for Montana energy."

Baucus, Tester and Schweitzer said that now the impact study has been completed, the next phase is to open the project up to public comment. The public comment period will start on February 15 and Montanans will have the opportunity to weigh in for 45 days.