RAPID/BulkTransmission/Montana/Land Access

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Montana Bulk Transmission Land Access(3-MT)

The state of Montana has a state-administered siting act for high voltage transmission lines, the MFSA.Montana Code 75-20 An applicant must file an application with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The role of the state in permitting high voltage transmission lines is to approve or deny the Certificate of Compliance and to provide environmental review. Montana Code 75-20-201

Montana law requires that all proposed transmission lines with a voltage over 69kV obtain a CC from the MDEQ; Montana Code 75-20-201 a combined permitting and siting process.

Easement / Land Use License

The Montana Trust Land Management Division manages the State of Montana's trust land resources to produce revenue for trust beneficiaries. Montana’s state trust lands comprise approximately 5.1 million surface acres and 6.2 million mineral acres.

The Real Estate Management Bureau within the Montana Trust Land Management Division reviews and processes applications for rights-of-way and easements across trust lands and navigable waterways.

If the project requires the use of or access across state lands the developer must submit an application for a right-of-way or easement to the Montana State Land Board (MSLB). Montana Rule 36.2.10 General State Land Rules If the project requires a casual use of state lands prior to the issuance of a full lease, developers may submit a Land Use License Application to the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (MDNRC). The MDNRC will only award a Land Use License if the use is compatible with the MDNRC’s multiple use objective. Montana Rule 36.25.1 Surface Management Rules

State Highway Encroachment

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) issues permits for encroachments on state highway ROWs. Encroachments include the building of new approaches, the installation, maintenance, and operation of utility facilities such as pipe lines, pole lines, buried cable, and conduits, and other activities that may affect the right of way. Depending on the type of encroachment, developers may submit an Encroachment Permit Application or an Application for Right of Way Easement for Utilities Through State Lands.

Local Laws

Under state laws, Montana counties and municipalities are given zoning authority to regulate and restrict the use of land and require permits for buildings within their jurisdiction lines. The Montana Municipal Zoning Enabling Act Montana Code 76-2-301 empowers cities and towns to control zoning and building, while the Montana County Planning and Zoning Commission Act Montana Code 76-2-201 allows counties to adopt zoning ordinances. Land use permits will be required for each local government associated with the transmission lines, however, regulations will vary. Requirements and permits needed for construction of a transmission line will vary by county and municipality. Some or all of the following elements as they relate to land access, may be required:

  • Special Use permit
  • Conditional Use permit
  • Development Agreement
  • Site Improvement permit
  • ROW Encroachment permit/ROW grant
  • Road Improvement Plan Approval
  • Site Development Plan

The MDEQ can refuse to apply any local law or regulation, including zoning, if it finds that as applied to the proposed facility, the law or regulation is unreasonably restrictive in view of the existing technology, cost and need of consumers.Montana Code 75-20-301

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.


Permitting at a Glance

Montana Federal

State Land Right-of-Way: Any person may need a State Land Right-of-way or Easement to access state lands. MT. Admin. Code. § 36.2.1001. A person may also need a Land Use License for short-term use of state lands before a full lease begins. MT. Admin. Code. §36.25.106.
State Land Right-of-Way Agency: Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
State Highway Right-of-Way: Electric power corporations may need an Encroachment Permit to install any projects in a highway right-of-way. Montana – Mont. Code Ann. §§ 69-4-101 et seq., Use of public right-of-way for utility lines and facilities.
State Highway Right-of-Way Agency: Montana State Land Board
Eminent Domain: A public utility may exercise the power of eminent domain to provide service to the customers of its regulated service. A public utility is defined as “every corporation, both public and private, company, individual, association of individuals, and their lessees, trustees… that own, operate, or control any plant or equipment, any part of a plant or equipment… for the production, delivery, or furnishing for or to other persons, firms, associations, or corporations, private or municipal power in any form or by any agency.” Mont. Code Ann. § 69-3-113.