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Black Eagle Dam is getting some upgrades

The project will strengthen the integrity of the dam.
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Manual Ice Removal.png
Posted at 6:56 PM, May 24, 2024

Later this year NorthWestern Energy will begin work on a major project to upgrade the spillway of the Black Eagle Dam, improving the safety and reliability of the hydroelectric facility.

The project involves the installation of new support structures to strengthen the integrity of the dam.

It will also eliminate the need for manual ice removal. Currently, NorthWestern Energy hydro crews use hand tools and equipment to scrape ice from the dam, sometimes two or three times a day during frigid temperatures.

The dam has been generating since 1927, and part of the goal of the new enhancements is to reinforce the dam to withstand another century.

NorthWestern Energy spokeswoman Jo Dee Black explained that the project is “a great investment as this facility goes into its second century of serving Montanans. 58% of the energy that we are providing for our customers here in Montana comes from carbon free resources and our hydro facilities are a big part of that. Recently equipment in the powerhouse was upgraded and that increased the capacity of the generation of Black Eagle Dam by 25%. We feel very honored to be stewards of these resources and we are working so that they'll be available and ready to serve Montanans for the next hundred years.”

The project will begin in September of this year and is expected to take two years to complete.

Crews are currently working on building a barge landing for the transport of materials for the project. During that time there will be intermittent closures at the River’s Edge Trail in Black Eagle.

Flaggers will be onsite to direct trail users to ensure the safety of the public and closures will usually last for no more than an hour at a time. Any closure longer than that will be planned and announced to the public.

To learn more about the Black Eagle Dam Spillway Project and to stay up to date with planned trail closures, click here.