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NorthWestern Energy, which serves approximately 673,200 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, has announced a plan to upgrade its electric transmission infrastructure in Stillwater and Carbon counties in south central Montana.

The upgrade, to take place in phases over 10 years, will aim to improve the reliability of electric service to NorthWestern's customers in the area, including those served by electric cooperatives, and provide added capacity to meet electric load growth in the region.

The initial phase of the project will include substation upgrades and the construction of a new 100 kV transmission line from NorthWestern's existing Columbus-Rapelje substation to a new substation near Dean, in southern Stillwater County. The transmission line will be 45 to 55 miles in length, depending on the final route.

The first phase of the project, with an estimated cost of $34 million to $39 million, is expected to begin early in 2013 with project siting and right-of-way acquisition. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2015. Later phases of the project will include upgrades and rebuilding of existing transmission lines in the area.

"We are working diligently to improve electric service and reliability across our operating territory," says Mike Cashell, NorthWestern's vice president of transmission. "These transmission upgrades in Stillwater and Carbon counties are among the top priorities for NorthWestern and will help us better serve our residential, commercial and industrial customers in this growing part of Montana."



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