The electrical line servicing Big Sky has been inadequate for quite some time. An EIS has been issued for the proposed route for a new transmission line through Gallatin Canyon and is now within its 45 day appeal period.
Gallatin Forest to start electrical line upgrade by Bozeman Daily Chronicle Staff
The Gallatin National Forest may start work as early as May on upgrading a transmission line through the Gallatin Canyon.
On Thursday, the forest released its final environmental impact statement on the chosen route for the 37-mile upgrade to the transmission line that wends through the Gallatin Canyon from Four Corners to Big Sky. The line crosses 16 miles of forest land.
The line will use the existing right of way except at two points: the residential tracts near Cave and Cascade creeks. At those points, the new right of way will shift to outside the residential areas, reducing visual impacts.
It also reduces the number of points where the line crosses the river, which helps the Gallatin River maintain its Wild and Scenic classification.
Construction is scheduled to take two years.
NorthWestern Energy said the upgrade from a 69-kilovolt to a 161-kilovolt line is necessary to improve reliability because the Big Sky area is on the verge of outgrowing the existing capacity. Big Sky’s demand exceeds the capacity about 40 percent of the time, mostly during the winter when ski lifts are in operation.
A 45-day appeal period begins March 29.
The impact statement is available at www.fs.usda.gov/gallatin.