PPL Montana begins upgrade of Rainbow plant

Construction of a new powerhouse is underway at the Rainbow hydroelectric plant on the Missouri River, about six miles northeast of here.

The $230 million upgrade calls for the installation of a 62-megawatt unit, which will replace several smaller units. The project is expected to be completed in 2012 and will increase the plant’s generating capacity by 70 percent, said PPL Montana, the plant’s owner and operator.

Equipped with wider flow passages and fewer rotating surfaces, the new turbine will benefit the river’s fish habitat, “making it easier for fish to pass through unharmed,” the company said.

The existing Rainbow plant, which houses eight turbine-generators, will operate until the new powerhouse is completed, and then will be decommissioned. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the plan in April 2009. (HydroWorld 4/3/09)

“PPL Montana is recommitting itself to the tradition of renewable energy development that has been part of Montana’s history and the Great Falls area for more than 100 years,” said Pete Simonich, vice president and chief operating officer.

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