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Gallatin power pole project hit with lawsuit

By KTVM Staff
Published On: Jun 19 2013 11:02:27 PM MDT
Updated On: Jun 19 2013 11:14:15 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

A Gallatin County landowner is suing to stop a power line project.

Linda Keith told us new power poles will mar the scenic beauty of Gallatin Canyon.

"It makes me cry," said Keith.

We found the 37 mile long project aims to boost available power to the Big Sky resort community.

It would start in the Four Corners area just west of Bozeman.

It would then wind it's way south through Gallatin Canyon to Big Sky Meadow Village.

The new line would more than double the available voltage to Big Sky, meaning larger power lines along the scenic corridor.

" I can't take a picture without these poles being in the viewfinder and it is just tragic," said Keith.

Keith filed a lawsuit recently in an effort to prevent the wooden poles from moving in.

She says the power poles will negatively impact the environment, wildlife and recreation.

We found she is not the only concerned citizen.

Malcolm Fitzsimmons is a Bozeman resident who is also against the project.

"Once these projects are started and complete they are done. They will never be changed and the Canyon will be altered forever," said Fitzsimmons.

We spoke with Butch Larcombe, an official from NorthWestern Energy, who says this project is the best way to meet the growing demand for energy in the Big Sky area.

"There are times in the winter when our system is at its maximum. We worry we wont be able to provide the reliable service that we should provide the people," said Larcombe.

Despite the concerns of residents in the area, and the lawsuit, NorthWestern energy is moving ahead.

They hope to have the project complete in the next few years.

"We think that this area is going to continue to grow. There is plenty of evidence that is going to be the case. We feel we need to upgrade the service there. That is what this whole project is about," said Larcombe.

Larcombe also said the ultimate deadline for this project is 2015.

Meanwhile, Keith says she still hopes her lawsuit will be enough to halt the project.