Posted: Oct 3, 2012 12:06 PM by MTN News
Updated: Oct 3, 2012 12:55 PM
Bonneville Power Administration is opting out of the Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI) project.
NorthWestern Energy said in a news release that "the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) notified the company that it has ranked other options ahead of the Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI) to serve BPA's southern Idaho loads."
MSTI is a proposed single-circuit electric transmission line that would begin south of Townsend, Montana and run south to Jerome, Idaho.
The construction of MSTI has hit several environmental and private property roadblocks along the way.
The project was put on hold in August after NorthWestern Energy wrote a letter to the Department of Environmental Quality, asking for a "timeout" due to the many delays the project has had.
The issue at the time was the proposed route which environmental groups claimed impacted sage grouse habitat, this caused a delay in releasing the Environmental Impact Statement.
One big factor in MSTI's potential success has been the interest and potential financial backing of Oregon-based Bonneville Power Administration.
In an earlier interview, BPA spokesman Doug Johnson told us that "NorthWestern's decision to halt MSTI operations doesn't impact our continued consideration for the MSTI project. We will continue to look at it as an option to reach our customers in Southwest Idaho."
BPA planned to make a decision on investing in MSTI by the end of September. Now, it looks as if BPA has decided to opt out of the project.
"Based on BPA's notification, continued market uncertainty and permitting issues, NorthWestern may write- off all, or a significant portion of preliminary survey and investigative costs totaling approximately $24 million associated with the MSTI transmission project. NorthWestern is currently evaluating if an impairment charge should be recognized. If NorthWestern concludes that a material impairment loss is required to be recognized, it will disclose the matter under Item 2.06 of Form 8-K.
While NorthWestern does not anticipate incurring significant additional costs in the foreseeable future related to MSTI, the company will continue to monitor market conditions and evaluate strategic options related to the MSTI project," NorthWestern Energy said in a news release.