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Bozeman Daily Chronicle
March 20, 2012

Guest column: Why Montana needs transmission line projects

As a former wilderness ranger, I’d like to think I am more likely than most to notice the intrusion of industrial infrastructure on the landscape. Yet, I am often struck by how little I notice one of the state’s largest transmission lines on my commute between Helena and Bozeman.

On the stretch of U.S. 287 between Winston and Townsend, it’s the road itself that most often catches my eye: an eight-mile straightaway of blacktop cutting across the land. Yet just a little down the road, five miles south of Townsend, I barely notice one of the state’s largest transmission lines a mile out before passing underneath the structure that marches across the rangeland.

At the end of day, it’s not aesthetics that irk me; it’s the dirty coal energy electrons humming along to customers in the Pacific Northwest.

See, I view climate change and the associated forest fires, lack of snow pack, stresses on wildlife, hazy mountain views and polluted air as a lot bigger threat to my enjoyment of Montana than the power lines. In fact, I’d like nothing more than to put that Colstrip transmission line into the service of delivering clean, affordable renewable energy.


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