Northwestern Energy abandons plans for MSTI transmission line

Opposition groups claim victory

by Daniel Moore
Press Staff Writer

The Mountain States Transmission Intertie, or MSTI, an electrical transmission line that was planned for Pleasant Valley, has officially been abandoned by Northwestern Energy. The company told the Bureau of Land Management to stop any studies of potential transmission line routes.

All studies were put on hold near the end of 2012, when the company reported to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the project would be stopped and the costs written off. The BLM waited for Northwestern Energy to monitor market conditions over the course of 2013 before seeing how to continue. In December, Northwestern Energy formally withdrew the application for the project.

The project faced stiff local opposition. The Power County citizens’ task force on transmission lines, as well as the local Guardians of Agricultural Land (GOAL) Inc. were excited at the announcement. Both groups had campaigned long and hard for the transmission line to not be placed on agricultural land in Power County.

“Without the support of Power County, this battle could not have been fought. It now appears that we have won the battle, and those dangerous and destructive transmission towers will not run through Pleasant Valley,” said Larry Bethke, president of GOAL, Inc.

The MSTI route faced opposition in Montana as well. A lawsuit from Jefferson County, MT, was heard before the Montana Supreme Court on the transmission line.

Bethke noted that GOAL Inc. and Power County, as well as Cassia County are still battling the Gateway West Transmission Line, another transmission line project that would run through Power County..

“We can now focus all of our efforts on stopping Gateway West. We know it will be a hard fight, but this shows it can be won” stated Bethke.

The BLM has approved a route through Power County for the transmission line, but is open to a different route depending on the result of sage grouse habitat maps currently in production. Construction on the Gateway West project would not begin four at least four more years.

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