The energy company lodged the appeal against a Montana Supreme Court decision which granted the state ownership of riverbeds underlying certain PPL Montana-owned dams. Under the Montana ruling, the company must pay accrued rent and interest, and an undetermined amount of rent going forward, for the use of riverbeds beneath its hydroelectric plants, some of which have been generating electricity for more than a century. The company has recorded a charge of $56M that includes the original judgment of the Montana courts plus the company’s estimate of interest and rent that has accrued since the state court’s ruling.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to take up this case because of the broad implications it has for water users throughout the West,” said Robert J. Grey, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of PPL Corporation.

Grey said the case raises federal issues that affect the rights of streambed users including hydroelectric plant operators, ranchers, irrigators, cities, dock owners, recreationalists and federal landholding agencies.

“The diverse support PPL Montana received to get this case on the high court’s docket shows the importance and potential consequences of this issue to many parties across the West,” Grey added. “Many water users, water use associations and industry organizations — including the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, the Montana Water Resources Association, the Edison Electric Institute, the national-hydropower-association and others — have supported this appeal.”