Taking advantage of newly granted borrowing authority, the Western Area Power Administration has dusted off plans for a U.S.-Canada intertie and is close to an agreement with a private developer to take a stake in a $213-million project to wheel up to 300 MW between Montana and Alberta. Power is to be generated from wind farms, some still to be constructed, in and around Cut Bank, Mont.

Great Falls, Mont.
Great Falls, Mont.

WAPA moved quickly to find money and a developer by authority granted under Section 402 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Tonbridge Power Inc., Toronto, will invest $161 million in a public-private partnership, expected to close in time for an 18-month project to begin before year’s end. The 214-mile, 230-kV line will connect Great Falls, Mont., and Lethbridge, Alberta.

Montana-Alberta Intertie
Jobs Created 55
Plus related services
Project Cost $213 Million
First Direct link to Montana,
Alberta electric grids

“It’s the first line to tie the grids of Montana and Alberta directly together,” says Bob Williams, vice president of Montana-Alberta Tie Ltd., the Calgary-based Tonbridge subsidiary that is managing the project. Rocky Mountain Contractors Inc., Helena, will build the line under a contract for an undisclosed amount.

Greg Darkenwald, Rocky Mountain senior project manager, says the intertie will provide about 55 construction jobs, as well as ancillary services. The line mostly will be built over ranchland and farms. “Unless you are paving, the [stimulus] money has been slow to arrive,” he says. “But this shows the stimulus is making an impact for smaller companies.”