Against a backdrop of the Missouri River and a 99-year-old power house, PPL Montana broke ground Thursday on a $230 million project to expand the Rainbow hydroelectric plant near Great Falls.
“Thanks for coming — and lets break some ground here,” said Dan Walsh Jr. of general contractor Walsh Construction out of Chicago.
Several old turbines are being replaced with a single, more efficient turbine. A new power house will be constructed to house the turbine.
Pete Simonich, vice president and chief operating officer of PPL Montana, said electricity output would increase to 62 megawatts, enough to power 45,000 homes.
“We will increase by 70 percent the amount of clean, renewable power generated here at our Rainbow facility when this project is completed in 2012,” he said.
The project will create between 100 to 200 construction jobs, Simonich said.
A large crowd of local, state and federal officials turned out for the celebration. Excavation work is expected to begin this week, said PPL’s David Hoffman.