NorthWestern Energy closes deal to purchase PPL Montana hydroelectric facilities


NorthWestern Energy has closed on the previously announced $900 million purchase of 11 hydroelectric facilities with a total capacity of 633 MW, as well as one storage reservoir, from electricity generator PPL Montana.

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.

As part of this transaction, 81 employees officially transferred from PPL Montana to NorthWestern Energy. In addition, a rate increase associated with the purchase of the facilities has taken effect, amounting to about 5.12%.

NorthWestern previously announced the issuance of equity and debt securities to finance the acquisition.

NorthWestern also expects that the Kerr hydro project will be transferred to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation in September 2015, in accordance with the project’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission operating license.

The company says hydro is a great fit for its customers and that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for NorthWestern and its customers, to acquire clean, renewable sources of electricity that will serve Montana for many decades. “Fifty years from now, as these assets are paid down, our children and grandchildren will appreciate the farsighted leadership of Montana PSC Chairman Gallagher and his colleagues, who made this possible,” said Bob Rowe, chief executive officer of NorthWestern.

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) issued its formal final order approving the sale in late September, following prior approval by FERC of hydropower license transfers to NorthWestern upon close of the transaction.

NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the upper Midwest and northwest, serving about 678,200 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

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