Posted: Aug 17, 2012 7:56 AM by Jamie Leary - MTN News
Updated: Oct 3, 2012 1:03 PM
BUTTE- NorthWestern Energy has put a temporary halt to further studies of nearly four years of working on a proposal for a new underground transmission line.
The Mountain States Transmission Intertie, (MSTI), is a proposed single-circuit electric transmission line that would begin south of Townsend, Montana and run south to Jerome, Idaho.
NorthWestern energy recently wrote a letter to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, asking for a "timeout" due to the many delays the project has had.
The most recent issue was that the proposed route of the transmission line may impact sage grouse habitat; this caused a delay the release of the Environmental Impact Statement draft.
The federal Bureau of Land Management is one of the agencies working on the MSTI Environmental Impact Statement.
While NorthWestern Energy feels the EIS has been delayed, the BLM argues that delays with a major project such as this are to be expected.
"We understand NorthWestern's frustration and concerns about the process, but it is a process that we have to follow and we have to utilize. You know, any time a project comes in front of us, especially a major project like the MSTI power line is, there will be some delays and there is a process it takes time for us to accomplish," Rick Hotailing of the BLM said.
The BLM says NorthWestern Energy will look at other options for the MSTI project and decide whether or not they want to close the book.