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Industry News

Stimulus Financing Approved for Montana-Alberta Tie Project

LCG, November 20, 2009--The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) yesterday approved an agreement to support financing the construction of the Montana-Alberta Tie project, a proposed electric transmission line that will provide the first, direct link from Alberta to electricity markets in the United States.

The financing arrangement approved by the FERC utilizes the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). The arrangement, which closed on October 27, provides for Western Area Power Administration (Western) to help finance construction of the project using a $161 million loan made available through the Recovery Act.

The international line will extend northward from an existing NorthWestern Energy (NWE) 230-kV switchyard at Great Falls, Montana to a new substation to be constructed northeast of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. The new line is expected to enhance the development of wind farms along its route. Approximately 130 miles of the 214-mile long transmission line will be built in the United States.

Under the arrangement, Western will have a one-twelfth ownership interest in the line, comprising approximately 18 miles of the line, and a conditional right to 50 MW of southbound capacity. The right to the 50 MW of capacity is subject to pre-existing arrangements for the southbound capacity with current interconnection customers.

Western's use or sale of its transmission rights is subject to its open access tariff, and any capacity not used or sold by Western will be released back to Montana-Alberta to be marketed under Montana-Alberta?s tariff, with Western getting 75 percent of the revenues.

The project sponsors, Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. (MATL) and MATL LLP, expect the merchant transmission project to commence commercial operation by the fourth quarter of 2010. According to the sponsors, all of the capacity on the project was purchased by wind generator developers pursuant to an open season process. MATL LLP has received requests for 180 MW of southbound transmission service from Invenergy Wind Montana LLC and for 120 MW of southbound transmission service from Wind Hunter, LLC, each with a term of approximately 30 years.

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability published its Record of Decision to issue a Presidential Permit for the project in November 2008.
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