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PPL Montana: Rainbow hydro plant expansion project passes halfway point

The expansion of PPL Montana's Rainbow hydroelectric plant in Montana is more than 60 percent complete and on schedule despite the record rainfall this spring and continuing high flows on the Missouri River, PPL reported.

"Crews working at the construction site recently embedded all of the major turbine components in concrete, a key milestone in the $230 million expansion project at Rainbow," said Pete Simonich, vice president and chief operating officer of PPL Montana. "Our next milestone is the completion of the powerhouse, which is expected in late summer. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2012.

"The new Rainbow hydroelectric plant taking shape on the Missouri River is poised to bring more clean, reliable energy to the region and power the future, just as it helped provide power and fueled economic growth at the dawn of the industrial age in Montana back in 1910," he said.

With a single 62-MW unit in the new powerhouse, PPL Montana will increase by 70 percent the amount of clean, renewable power it generates at its Rainbow facility. Smaller units, installed between 1909 and 1930 with a combined capacity of 35 MW, are being replaced with the single unit that can generate enough electricity to power about 45,000 homes.

Since the start of the project in the fall of 2009, the Rainbow redevelopment has created hundreds of local construction jobs and boosted the local economy, PPL said.

In other news, the U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it will hear PPL Montana's appeal of a Montana Supreme Court decision that granted the state ownership of riverbeds underlying certain PPL Montana-owned dams, retroactively going back to statehood.

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