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Kerr Operations Update

Jun 25, 2015

Representatives from NorthWestern Energy (NWE), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Energy Keepers, Inc. (“EKI”), Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Bonneville Power Administration conferred on June 12 regarding current and projected operation of the Kerr Project. The current outflow is about 12,700 cubic feet per second (cfs) and the lake elevation, as of June 24th, was 2,892.72 feet, which is 0.28 feet from full elevation of 2,893.0 feet.

Flathead Lake achieved full pool of 2,893.0 on June 15, meeting the full pool requirements of Article 43 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) license, taking into consideration the effect of wind and wave action on lake levels.

The latest forecast information indicates that inflow will not be adequate to maintain the lake level at or above 2892.0 feet while meeting required minimum outflow pursuant to Article 56 of the FERC License. NorthWestern is in the process of implementing the proposed Drought Management Plan (the “DMP”), having filed a request for Article 56 variance on June 24 with Interior and FERC. The DMP was submitted to the Secretary of the U. S. Department of the Interior and FERC in 2002 and its approval remains pending.

The DMP anticipates the management of drought conditions as a multi-step process. The first step is to reduce the target lake elevation for the recreation season (June 15 to September 1) from 2,893 feet to 2,892 feet.

If after reducing the lake level to 2,892, inflows into the lake are not adequate to maintain this elevation, the DMP anticipates one or both of the following steps are taken to maintain the 2,892 elevation during the recreations season: (1) modifying the Article 56 minimum instream flows by matching the inflows and outflows, and/or (2) increasing flow into Flathead Lake from Hungry Horse Reservoir. The former step, modifying the minimum flows under Article 56, will require the Department of Interior’s concurrence and a variance from FERC.

The latest runoff forecast for Flathead Lake prepared by the River Forecast Center (“RFC”) for the June through September period is 52 percent of average. The snow pack has diminished to the point that it is no longer a significant factor and future forecasts will be dependent on precipitation. The natural stream flow for the month of June has averaged 63 percent of normal, to date. The inflows have continued to decline. Based on this information and forecasts, the predictions for the level of Flathead Lake (without a minimum flow variance) through the recreation season are as follows:

  • June 30, 2105 - 2,892.31 ft.
  • July 31, 2015 - 2,891.77 ft.
  • August 31, 2015 - 2,892.11 ft.

NorthWestern will provide additional information as it becomes available.

For more media information, contact Corporate Communications at NorthWestern Energy (866) 622-8081.

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