PPL Montana celebrates completion of 60-MW Rainbow hydropower plant

Utility company PPL Montana officially dedicated its 60-MW Rainbow Dam hydropower plant with a ceremony that attracted state and local officials earlier this week.

The US$245 million redevelopment project replaced a century-old powerhouse, increasing the plant’s generating capacity by 70%, according to PPL (NYSE: PPL).

“As projects like Rainbow demonstrate, hydropower continues to offer promise and potential,” PPL vice president and chief operating officer Pete Simonich said. “Modernization and upgrades to existing facilities offer an opportunity to increase capacity without the need for construction of new, large dams.”

Work on the new powerhouse began in October 2009 and required the removal of more than 500,000 tons of earth and rock, the pouring of more than 50,000 cubic yards of concrete, and seven million pounds of rebar.

Rainbow Dam itself is a 1,055-feet-long by 29-feet-high structure that began operating in 1910.  PPL Montana said the new powerhouse sits about 2,500 feet downstream from the dam and 200 feet from the old powerhouse.

The Rainbow project is located in near Montana’s Great Falls along the Missouri River and was made possible in part by incentives made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

HydroWorld.com reported in April that the plant had been completed.

PPL Montana is a subsidiary of the PPL Corporation and operates 11 hydropower projects along West Rosebud Creek and the Missouri, Madison, Clark Fork and Flathead rivers.

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