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Montana congressmen support hydropower at the Sun River Project in western Montana

A large, concrete dam at the Gibson reservoir
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
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The Gibson dam in July 1977.

Montana’s U.S. senators and representative introduced legislation this week to approve the development of hydropower at Sun River’s Gibson dam.

U.S. Sens. Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Steve Daines, a Republican, and Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale on Monday introduced bills in their respective chambers Monday calling on the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to authorize the construction and operation of a power plant at the Sun River’s Gibson dam, which is part of an irrigation district the federal government established in the early 20th century.

Greenfield Irrigation District manager Erling Juel says staff would sell the energy the dam generates to an electric utility and invest the money in upgrading the dam and other infrastructure.

“It simply cannot be done on the backs of the producers - the ag producers,” Juel said. “We gotta find some creative solutions to generate these revenue streams that will allow us to facilitate and expedite our overhaul and modernization efforts.”

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.