BOZEMAN – To keep up with growth in the Big Sky area, NorthWestern Energy is proposing upgrading its current 69 kilovolt Gallatin Canyon electrical transmission line to 161 kV.

The new line would run approximately parallel to the current one and the right-of-way through 16 miles of National Forest System lands in the canyon would be expanded.

The Bozeman Ranger District of the Gallatin National Forest is hosting an open house on Nov. 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Ophir School gym in Big Sky to discuss the proposal. Resource specialists and representatives from the Forest Service, NorthWestern Energy and the contractor, Power Engineering, will be available to answer questions, explain project details and assist with any comments and concerns from the public. Stations will be setup and citizens can stop by anytime during the two-hour period.

On an annual basis, current electrical usage exceeds capacity of the Jackrabbit and Ennis substations about 40 percent of the time, according to a press release from the Gallatin National Forest. The upgrade would help NorthWestern meet current energy demand, provide for anticipated growth, and comply with industry standards and customer needs.

A copy of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is available at the Gallatin National Forest website. The DEIS is also available at the Bozeman Ranger District office as well as Bozeman, Belgrade and Big Sky public libraries. The DEIS evaluates potential effects of the proposed action, two action alternatives, as well as no action for NorthWestern Energy’s rebuild and upgrade of the transmission line on NFS lands.

Comments are being accepted until Dec. 3 by submitting electronically to FS-comments-northern-gallatin@fs.fed.us, or mailing to: Gallatin National Forest, Bozeman Ranger District, Attn: Amy Waring, NEPA Team Leader, 3170 Fallon St., Ste C, Bozeman, MT 59718.