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JUNE 14, 2011
Contact: David Hoffman, 406-431-6783

PPL Montana’s Rainbow Dam expansion project passes halfway point

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

“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-megawatt 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 megawatts, 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.

Brett Doney, president and chief executive officer of the Great Falls Development Authority, said the work at Rainbow, which has involved more than 45 Montana subcontractors and suppliers, is the largest private sector project, in terms of dollars, in the history of Cascade County.

Click here for a video from Doney about how the Rainbow redevelopment project is helping the economy.

“There are many local workers and other people from across the state who are living here, buying products and using an array of services available in the Great Falls area,” Doney said. “The nature of construction jobs such as this is that a lot of work gets done on site, and that requires supplies from local vendors and businesses. It’s a ripple effect.”

“Just as it did back in 1910, Rainbow once again is providing a large boost to the local economy,” Simonich said.

PPL Montana provides safe, reliable energy from coal-fired power plants at Colstrip and Billings, as well as 11 hydroelectric plants along West Rosebud Creek and the Missouri, Madison, Clark Fork and Flathead rivers. It has a combined generating capacity of more than 1,200 megawatts and has offices in Billings, Butte and Helena. PPL Montana and its 500 employees are dedicated to Montana and its communities, supporting educational, environmental and economic development programs across the state. PPL EnergyPlus operates a trading floor in Butte that markets and sells power for PPL Montana in wholesale and retail energy markets throughout the western United States. PPL Montana and PPL EnergyPlus are subsidiaries of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL).