Montana PSC issues final order approving PPL sale of 11 hydro plants to NorthWestern Energy

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The Montana Public Service Commission issued its formal final order approving PPL Montana's sale of 11 hydroelectric plants totaling 663 MW to NorthWestern Energy.

The action follows a Sept. 4 vote in which the PSC approved the sale subject to approval of language in the final order.

PPL Montana said the PSC action Sept. 26 follows prior approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of hydropower license transfers to NorthWestern upon close of the transaction. PPL said before the transaction can close, NorthWestern must file with FERC and obtain approval of certain financing transactions. The Federal Trade Commission granted Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust approval in May.

PPL Montana LLC, a generation subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based PPL Corp., announced the $900 million deal in September 2013. The seller said it expects its net cash proceeds will be about $880 million.

NorthWestern Energy acquired the original hydro project owner, Montana Power, in 2000, at which time the hydro projects were sold to PPL Corp.

Included in the sale are the Missouri-Madison hydroelectric project (No. 2188) comprising the 19-MW Hauser, 48-MW Holter, 21-MW Black Eagle, 60-MW Rainbow, 69-MW Cochrane, 60-MW Ryan and 48-MW Morony plants on the Missouri River, and the 8-MW Madison plant and the unpowered Hebgen Dam on the Madison River; 94-MW Thompson Falls (No. 1869) on Clark Fork; 12-MW Mystic Lake (No. 2301) on West Rosebud Creek; and 194-MW Kerr (No. 5) on the Flathead River.

NorthWestern Energy has said the deal also confirms commitments to proceed with the transfer of Kerr Dam to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

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