Articles filed under General from Montana
Small power producer Lee Tavenner had heard plenty of talk about promoting “alternative” or “renewable” in Montana - but this week, he’s hoping the talk might translate into action. “I see a state that has gone crazy about wind power, but will not do anything with the best method to promote it,” he said. “This is a tool that can actually implement, rather than just talk, about renewable energy.” Tavenner, who installs solar-power systems and owns a small hydroelectric project near Philipsburg, is talking about an obscure set of federal and state laws that have helped launch independent, alternative-power plants across America since the early 1980s. This week, whether these laws are being enforced properly in Montana comes to a head before the Montana Public Service Commission. In a complex case that’s had scant publicity, the PSC will decide issues that could provide a boost to small wind, hydro or other renewable-power projects.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer touted the state’s economy and energy potential in speeches here and in Billings. “The economic conditions have never been better in Montana,” Schweitzer told City Club Missoula members Monday night. “We have the lowest unemployment rate in the history of our state. If you have a job to fill, you can’t find people.” But he said the prosperity doesn’t extend to eastern Montana. “In eastern Montana, the towns are getting smaller and the age of the population is getting greater and the bright kids are leaving because there are no opportunities for them,” Schweitzer said. Schweitzer then pushed his plan to develop new energy sources in eastern Montana, from the traditional such as coal, to wind power and biofuels.
At the halfway point between the West Coast energy crisis of 2001 and the next major electricity contract renewal year of 2011, a federal power marketing agency is proposing a policy change that could affect rates in the Pacific Northwest for generations and become a national model for energy development. Northwest hydropower is one of the cheapest energy resources in the nation - about half the current market rate for electricity. The Bonneville Power Administration - which sells power in all of Washington, Oregon and Idaho and parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Montana - announced this summer it wants to change the way it charges utilities for its wholesale power, to keep rates low.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- At the halfway point between the West Coast energy crisis of 2001 and the next major electricity contract renewal year of 2011, a federal power marketing agency is proposing a policy change that could affect rates in the Pacific Northwest for generations and become a national model for energy development. Northwest hydropower is one of the cheapest energy resources in the nation - about half the current market rate for electricity. The Bonneville Power Administration - which sells power in all of Washington, Oregon and Idaho and parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Montana - announced this summer that it wants to change the way it charges utilities for its wholesale power to keep rates low.
POPLAR — The Fort Peck Tribes are taking advantage of the ever-present prairie winds to reduce their electric bill. Electricity from two, 50-kilowatt wind turbines began flowing into the Tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs complex in Poplar this week, and tribal officials expect to cut their power bills by two-thirds, at a savings of $30,000 annually. The planning for the two towers started 10 years ago when a study showed the average wind speed on some spots on the reservation averaged 15 mph, said Tribal Councilman Stoney Anketell, who pushed for the project since 1996.
Wind is free, the fuel source is not imported, it does not use water, has no air emission or solid waste disposal issues and its generation is not affected by increased natural gas prices, but it has two weaknesses. It is uncontrollable and uncertain as an energy source. That variability affects its integration into the region's electrical grid. The power in the wind is proportional to the cube of its speed and doubling the wind speed increases the available power by eight times. In addition, calm days mean zero voltage.
One way to advance wind energy is to try and destroy materials that potentially would make up a blade in a turbine. In a lab at Montana State University, three machines with two steel fists, roughly the size and shape of coffee cans, attempt to break materials. Held between these fists was a wafer of fiberglass and resin. Some of the machines pulled on a wafer, others pushed. “These machines keep grinding away around the clock,” said Montana State University’s John Mandell.
Bozeman - In a little lab on the campus of Montana State University, John Mandell, Dan Samborsky, and scores of students, have been breaking things to advance the field of wind energy.
WASHINGTON — Southern California and the urban centers from Northern Virginia to New York face the most critical power grid problems, but such remote areas as Montana and the Dakotas may need new transmission lines in the near future, an Energy Department report warns.
Before wading too far into discussion of a possible wind farm in the vicinity of Giant Springs Heritage State Park, it's important to note something the developer himself notes: The proposal is very preliminary. On the table is an initial outline of 14 wind turbines on benchland between the Rainbow Dam area east of Giant Springs and Malmstrom Air Force Base.
The development would be directly behind Fish Wildlife & Parks Region 4 headquarters on Giant Springs Road. Gary Bertellotti, regional supervisor for FWP in Great Falls, said Brown notified the office of the proposal and officials have some concerns "Wind power is good for the state," he said. "But our concern is the viewshed right along the river."
CASPER - The Natrona County Commission has reversed its denial of permits for three, 180-foot wind monitoring towers east of Evansville.
The development would be directly behind Fish Wildlife & Parks Region 4 headquarters on Giant Springs Road.
HELENA Today is the deadline for the public to comment on plans to establish a wind farm about 30 miles north of Glasgow.
More than 20 alternatives were evaluated. All but three were eliminated from more detailed consideration in the EIS because they didn't meet certain criteria, said Kathleen Johnson, DEQ environmental impact specialist. Those criteria include failure to generate the needed 250 megawatts of power, cost, reliability and environmental shortcomings.
Coal gasification is promising, and wind farms are popping up or planned across the state, he said. Some wind developers think they might be able to provide a steady source of power from wind by locating wind farms all around Montana, Schweitzer said. Others think that would be impractical and say the wind farms must be supplemented by coal plants or other stable power sources.
HELENA The deadline for public comment, on plans to establish a wind farm north of Glasgow, is being extended by two weeks.
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Developers of a proposed electric transmission line between Lethbridge, Alta., and Great Falls, Mont., said wind developers have bought one-half of the line's capacity and part of the route has been changed to satisfy federal regulators in Canada.
A proposed power line that would provide transmission capacity to four wind-generation projects between Lethbridge, Alta., and Great Falls fails to consider the long-term impacts on farmers
HELENA — The Bureau of Land Management and the state Department of Environmental Quality are seeking public comment on an environmental assessment for a proposed wind farm near Glasgow.