Monday, October 18, 2010

Natural gas plant will allow Montana co-ops to own their own power

Four Montana rural electric cooperatives broke ground on a new $125 million natural gas power plant, signaling a move for state co-ops to own their own power instead of purchasing it. "The 120-megawatt Highwood Generating Station, which is being constructed by Billings-based Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative, is the third major energy project in north-central Montana to get under way this year," but is the first to be owned by rural electric cooperatives, Karl Puckett of the Great Falls Tribune reports.

"We're really seeing a birth of a whole new industry right now," former Great Falls City Manager John Lawton told Puckett of the spate of energy-related work in the region. The rural electric cooperatives say that "owning their power, instead of purchasing it, will give the cooperatives more control over the price of their electricity, which will become more important as the economy recovers and electric prices increase," Puckett writes. Beartooth Electric in Red Lodge, Fergus Electric in Lewistown, Mid-Yellowstone Electric in Hysham and Tongue River Electric in Ashland are combining on the project. (Read more)

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