UPDATED: Plant Backers Reach Deal with MEIC

Aaron Flint posted on August 18, 2010 12:02 :: 1209 Views

Backers of a proposed $85 million natural gas-fired power plant near Great Falls have brokered a critical agreement with environmentalists and landowners who have been opposing the project ever since it was first pitched as a coal-fired power plant. 

The Great Falls Tribune is reporting on the deal brokered between Southern Montana Electric, the Montana Environmental Information Center, and others.  Here is reaction from SME’s Tim Gregori and MEIC’s Anne Hedges.

“It’s been a long, long, drawn-out ordeal, and we have finally reached a point where we both are willing to move forward, so that’s great news to me,” Gregori said.

MEIC’s Hedges called the settlement “the end of a very emotionally and financially exhausting battle.”

Here’s what Gregori had to say Thursday morning with more reaction to the agreement:

Click to Listen

Wednesday, we reported how SME is also planning on bypassing the Montana Supreme Court, instead hoping to gain approval from Cascade County to move forward on construction. 

That news broke Wednesday morning as Southern Montana Electric’s Tim Gregori shared the news during an exclusive interview on the statewide radio talk show “Voices of Montana.”

Gregori announced the news that SME would be filing for a special use permit with Cascade County on Thursday.  Barring a reversal of the Montana Supreme Court’s July decision rejecting their initial construction permit, a special use permit through Cascade County is SME’s only option at getting construction on the Highwood Gas Plant up and running. 

Click to Listen

The Highwood Gas Plant was initially proposed as a coal-fired power plant and faced repeated hurdles, particularly from environmentalists opposed to coal, and adjacent landowners. 

Gregori says he has reached out to opponents and hopes that helps as their special use permit application moves forward. 

Click to Listen

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