Crow tribe, federal government reach agreement on hydropower from Yellowtail Afterbay Dam

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BILLINGS, Montana — The Crow Tribe in Montana has reached an agreement with federal officials to jointly develop hydropower from the Yellowtail Afterbay Dam.

The tribe would manage the project located near Fort Smith, Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Tyler Johnson said.

It would generate up to 9 megawatts of electricity — enough to power roughly 1,500 homes. A start date for construction has not been set.

"We'll help them with the design and construction," Johnson told the Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/1BRt3oQ ) in a story Wednesday.

The cost of the project was estimated last year to be $44.5 million. Crow officials have said they would like it operational by 2018.

In 2010, the tribe reached a $461 million water rights settlement with the federal government that created funding for several water projects, including hydropower generation.

The settlement gave the tribe exclusive rights to create and sell hydroelectricity from Yellowtail Afterbay, located along the Bighorn River about 25 miles north of the Montana-Wyoming border.

The 72-foot-high Afterbay Dam was built in 1964 to tame the widely varying releases from a much larger hydro project. The 250-megawatt Yellowtail Powerplant is part of a second dam about 2 miles upstream at the mouth of Bighorn Canyon.


Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

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