News Releases

Sierra Pacific Communications and Touch America to Build 750-Mile, High-speed, Fiber-optic Network Between Salt Lake City and Sacramento

May 3, 2000

May 4, 2000
Sierra Pacific Resources
Contact: Karl Walquist Cort Freeman
Phone: 775-834-3891 / 406-497-2368

For Immediate Release

Reno, Nev. and Butte, Mont. -- Sierra Pacific Communications (SPC), a subsidiary of Sierra Pacific Resources (NYSE: SRP), and Touch America, the telecommunications subsidiary of The Montana Power Company (NYSE: MTP), announced today that they've formed a partnership called Sierra Touch America LLC to construct a new 750-mile fiber-optic network between Sacramento and Salt Lake City.

Under terms of the agreement, Sierra Touch America also will assume part interest in the metropolitan fiber networks SPC has in Reno and Las Vegas. Customers served by the local networks will have the opportunity to access and receive information directly from Touch America's nationwide, state-of-the-art, broadband fiber-optic network.

Construction of the high-fiber count, multiple-duct Salt Lake City-Sacramento route is expected to commence immediately and to be completed by the summer of 2001. The estimated cost of the project is $100 million.

The Salt Lake City-Sacramento market demand is increasing due to the growth of business-to-business transactions via the Internet, explained Steve Oldham, vice president of corporate development and strategic planning for Sierra Pacific Resources.

"We are delighted to partner with Sierra Pacific to develop a key link for Touch America's national broadband fiber-optic network," said Mike Meldahl, Touch America's president."This partnership follows our strategy to join with strong, well-positioned regional companies to develop broadband telecommunications services in data, voice and image transmission for growing cities throughout the country. Las Vegas and Reno fit this description," he added.

According to Meldahl, partnerships like these that leverage regional infrastructure and marketing expertise with Touch America's national fiber backbone allow the companies to remain low cost providers of fast, secure and reliable telecom network services while increasing the value of the individual companies'communications assets.

Meldahl also said the Sacramento-Salt Lake City route has other benefits, as it connects Touch America's Portland to Los Angeles inland segment that passes through Boise, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas with Touch America's Portland-Los Angeles coastal route that passes through Sacramento and San Francisco.

"It's important to have fiber-optic routes connect to form rings," he said."These will become SONET, or synchronous optical network rings, providing greater reliability through a self healing system if the network is accidentally cut or fails," Meldahl said."With SONET architecture, traffic can be rerouted instantly in another direction, undetected by customers."

SPC has completed installation of a fiber-optic ring around Reno and expects to complete a similar"metro ring" around Las Vegas by the fall of 2000. Touch America has a 14,000-mile fiber-optic network that will reach 26,000 miles by year-end 2001.

SPC's 30-mile, fiber-optic ring around Reno has four"central offices" or hubs operated by Nevada Bell that provide interconnections to the local exchange carrier and other long-haul carriers. The 70-mile ring around Las Vegas will be connected to seven central offices operated by Sprint.

"Our goal is to provide an alternative path for high-speed communications at a highly competitive cost in one of America's fastest growing markets," Oldham said."We're excited about partnering with Touch America because it is one of the nation's premier telecommunications companies."

Headquartered in Reno, Nev., Sierra Pacific Resources is the parent company for Nevada Power Company, the electric utility for southern Nevada, and Sierra Pacific Power Company, the electric utility for most of northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area of California, and a natural gas and water distributor in the Reno-Sparks area. Other subsidiaries include Sierra Pacific Communications and the Tuscarora Gas Pipeline Co., which owns 50 percent interest in an interstate natural gas transmission partnership. Sierra Pacific's Web address is

Touch America is the wholly owned telecommunications subsidiary of The Montana Power Company, providing long-distance services, private-line services, Internet and business telephone equipment since 1983. The company's fiber-optic network employs the most advanced telecommunications technology available today. Touch America offers a full line of dedicated voice, data and video services and frame relay solutions. Touch America's equipment services include design, installation and maintenance of PBX and key systems. The company also offers construction management oversight of the installation of fiber-optic systems. Touch America and the Montana Power Company are based in Butte, Montana. Information about Touch America can be found at or

Forward-looking information is subject to risk and uncertainty. Portions of this document may constitute"forward-looking statements" as defined by federal law. Although the company believes any such statements are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that actual outcomes will not be materially different. Any such statements are made in reliance on the"safe harbor" protections provided under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Additional information about issues that could lead to material changes in performance is contained in the companies'annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.