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6 | FEBRUARY 19, 2014 NEWS

Arbitration Panel to Decide Kerr Dam Price Tag

READER Tribes seeking 

acquisition of massive 
hydroelectric facility 
near Polson

Do You Celebrate By DILLON TABISH of the Beacon
Valentine’s Day?
 An arbitration panel is preparing to 
announce the inal price tag for Kerr Dam, 
the 194-megawatt hydroelectric plant at 

the natural outlet of Flathead Lake near 
The American Arbitration Association 
held a hearing late last month in Newport, 
Calif., involving the facility’s current own- 
er, PPL Montana, and Energy Keepers, 
Inc., the new corporation tasked with ac- 47% YES
53% NO 
quiring and eventually operating the dam 
for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai 
The CSKT is looking to acquire the Will Board of Regents Chair
dam, which sits on the Flathead River Kerr Dam near Polson. Angela McLean Make a Good 
within the Flathead Indian Reservation, BEACON FILE PHOTO
by September 2015 as part of an agree- not be included in the tribes’ acquisition duces an average annual output of 1.1 mil- Lieutenant Governor?
ment dating back to 1985. The massive fa- price. Also, roughly $102,700 in employee lion megawatt-hours. The CSKT formally 

cility, which began operating in 1938, can severance costs proposed by PPL was also began to negotiate the acquisition in 2010.
store upwards of 1.2 million acre-feet of rejected.
PPL Montana’s hydroelectric facili- 
water and produce enough energy to pow- “We are pleased. Through these hear- ties include Kerr Dam; its Thompson Falls 
er nearly 150,000 homes. With the acqui- ings, we got our day in court, and this par- Dam on the Clark Fork River; Madison 
sition, the CSKT would become the irst tial award relects some signiicant wins Dam on the Madison River; Hauser, Holt- 
American Indian tribe to own and operate for the Tribes,” said Brian Lipscomb, CEP er, Black Eagle, Rainbow, Cochrane, Ryan 
a major hydroelectric power plant.
of Energy Keepers. “We feel optimis- and Morony dams along the Missouri Riv- 
A three-member panel was established tic that our position is solid, and that our er; and Mystic Lake Dam on West Rosebud 47% NO 53% YES

after both sides failed to reach an agree- team did an excellent job in presenting our Creek.
ment on the purchase price. PPL Montana case before the panel. Now we will wait PPL has agreed to sell 11 facilities, in- 
set the total acquisition cost at $49.5 mil- and anticipate their ruling that we expect cluding Kerr, to the largest electric utility 
lion, while the tribes claimed a much lower to relect what we agreed to in 1985 fo the in Montana. NorthWestern Energy, with Do You Agree with Congress’
price of $13.5 million.
remainder of items in question.”
more than 340,000 customers, has agreed Decision to Pass a Clean Debt 
The arbitration panel reviewed argu- The largest remaining question mark to pay an estimated $900 million for the Ceiling Bill?
ments from both sides and settled on par- revolves around environmental mitiga- facilities.
tial costs within the overall agreement and tion costs that PPL contends should be 
Last week the Montana Public Service 
a inal decision on the overall agreement is included in the agreement and valued at Commission voted 5-0 that Northwest- 
expected by March 5.
$31.7 million.
ern’s initial approval request was inad- 
The panel sided with PPL on the value PPL Montana purchased Kerr Dam in equate and asked the utility giant to pro- 
of Kerr Dam’s hydroelectric plant, rough- 1999 from Montana Power Company as vide additional igures that explain the 
ly $16.56 million, which was roughly $1.9 part of the utility giant’s sell-of after the impact of the deal on Montana custom- 
million more than CSKT’s estimate. Re- state deregulated the power industry.
ers. The company has said the acquisition 
garding looding rights, the panel sided The CSKT has been the co-licensee for would raise electric rates by about 4.2 per- 59YES
% % 
with CSKT and rebufed PPL Montana’s Kerr Dam since 1985. Under terms of their cent.
attempt at including $987,300 in legal fees contract, the tribe has the right to acquire NorthWestern has said the application 
related to a long-standing lawsuit over the project at “original cost less deprecia- also contains commitments to transfer the 
looding rights at Flathead Lake. The pan- tion” in the fall of 2015 and become the Kerr Dam to the CSKT.
el told the company that those costs would
sole owner and operator. The dam pro-


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