NorthWestern could build natural gas plant near Anaconda, MT

ANACONDA, Mont. – Officials for NorthWestern Energy said Wednesday night that the company could build a $100 million natural-gas fired power plant at Mill Creek to stabilize the electric grid.

The plant would be located on 60 acres of NorthWestern property next to the Mill Creek substation, south of Anaconda.

“This is not a for-sure project,” Bill Rhoads, NorthWestern’s director of Montana production, said at a meeting of the Anaconda-Deer Lodge Local Development Corp. and county officials. “We’re examining the feasibility of the project.”

After considering several locations, the company chose to pursue the Anaconda site because of its proximity to a natural gas supply, a railroad and water, plus existing environmental issues, spokesman John Fitzpatrick said.

The proposed site is already contaminated from the Anaconda Co.’s historic copper smelting operations.

NorthWestern, which hopes to break ground on the plant next year, plans to hold informational meetings in the coming months. The state Department of Environmental Quality also includes public comment periods in it’s permitting process.