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Kerr Hydroelectric Project Operation Update for Flathead Lake

Apr 22, 2015

Butte, Mont. – April 22, 2015 – Representatives from NorthWestern Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Energy Keepers, Inc., Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Bonneville Power Administration conferred on April 16, regarding current and projected operation of the Kerr Project. The current outflow is about 16,600 cubic feet per second (cfs) and the lake elevation, as of April 22, is 2886.99 feet, which is 6.01 feet from full elevation of 2893.0 feet.

The project is being operated taking into account the previous month’s and the current stream flows. The natural stream flows for March averaged about 333 percent of normal while the stream flow for the month of April to date has averaged 116 percent of normal. Snowpack is currently 82% of median which is a decrease of 10 percent from last month. The Northwest River Forecast Center’s volume runoff forecast for the April to July period that was issued April 21st is 81 percent of average.

The current operations target is that the lake will fill to approximately 2890.0 feet by Memorial Day weekend. The operation of the project, and in particular, decisions with respect to lake levels, are subject to constant monitoring, re-evaluation and change as weather patterns themselves may rapidly change. Appropriate operational changes will be made, if necessary.

In March 2002, PPL Montana filed a drought management plan (DMP) with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior for approval. The department is currently conducting an environmental review of the proposed DMP and considering alternatives. A final DMP has not been issued. In the interim, the operation will continue to be evaluated and adjusted, as appropriate, in consultation with the parties involved and with consideration of the PPL Montana draft DMP criteria. If conditions dictate, an ad hoc consultation with the parties involved will occur prior to the next monthly call.

On September 26, 2013, PPL Montana agreed to sell its hydroelectric facilities in Montana to NorthWestern Corporation d/b/a NorthWestern Energy (“NorthWestern”).  The transaction closed on November 18, 2014, including the transfer of PPL Montana's interest in the FERC Project license for Kerr Dam to NorthWestern.  NorthWestern is now responsible for Flathead Lake levels.

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Media Contact:
Butch Larcombe
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