Library filed under General from Montana
GreenHunter Energy's proposed 500-megawatt wind farm north of Glasgow, near the Canadian border, stirred a backlash this year from environmentalists worried the 400-foot turbines would loom over an adjacent wilderness area. Unwilling to scale back, the Texas company will take the $200 to $500 million it planned to invest in the 20,000-acre Valley County site and sink it into another wind project, most likely in California.
John Hines, director of energy supply planning for NorthWestern, says before the company buys more wind, it wants to be sure it has the right mix of power to offset gaps when the wind doesn't blow. Right now, it's expensive and difficult to buy "firming power," which is needed to complement intermittent wind power - especially when NorthWestern has no power-generating plants of its own, Hines says.
Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) control area covers the western states of the United States including California, Arizona, portions of Montana, Idaho, Nevada etc. See: http://www.nerc.com/regional/ for a full map of the area.
One issue concerning the project is how the energy will be transported out from the McCormick Ranch. Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. (MATL) has planned a transmission line from Great Falls to Lethbridge which would carry 600 megawatts of energy, however this line is yet to be put in. Underdahl said if the MATL power line goes through, there will be more towers for the McCormick wind project.... Originally, MATL was planning on 300 megawatts to go to Canada, Underdahl said. Now, if all their plans come to fruition, they will eventually have 750 megawatts. If the energy is transmitted through the MATL lines, it will be utilized in Canada. If Northwestern Energy chooses to collaborate on the project the energy will head to the West Coast, Underdahl explained.
Q:Why did Montgomery Energy, a Texas-based company, choose a project in Montana? A:Montgomery Energy bought the gas turbines from NorthWestern Energy that were originally intended for the Great Falls gas-fired power plant. Montgomery used those turbines for a project in Texas. But it was through that transaction that our company heard NorthWestern was looking to sell the Great Falls project. We like the Montana market because Montana is in short supply of intermediate-energy sources - the energy that supplements base-energy sources during times of peak energy use. With the wind potential in Montana, the state needs plants like this one to firm wind-generated energy.
Last week, two Great Falls city commissioners said they think the wind versus coal issue is more complex than wind advocates portray it.... [Great Falls City Manager John] Lawton said two major stumbling blocks for wind are cost and availability. He said it makes no sense for the city and SME to cancel plans for the Highwood station and "chase a ghost" - wind power.
Choteau City Council stepped up to the roulette wheel on July 3, betting on a new future for Choteau in the realm of renewable energy. The council listened to a presentation by Sean Micken, a representative of Matney-Frantz Engineering, LLC. The Bozeman-based engineering company hopes to streamline Choteau's path toward building a wind energy system, as it has for other Montana communities, by helping the city secure a Clean Renewable Energy Bond. Members of the council acknowledged the financial risks of the gamble, but agreed to immediately send the contract to the city attorney for legal counsel and sign on the dotted line when given the green light in order to meet a July 13 deadline.
Some grain growers in northcentral Montana and Alberta, used to government bureaucracy and bad weather eroding their bottom line, are determined to get a fair shake from another adversary - big business - in the form of a Canadian company proposing to build a private or "merchant" transmission line across their cropland. The federal and state/provincial governments on both sides of the border are set to approve or deny the permits for Montana Alberta Tie Ltd.'s three-year-old proposal by summer's end for the American portion and in October for the Canadian portion.
The U.S. Department of Energy plans its toughest environmental review of the proposed power transmission line between Great Falls and Lethbridge, Alta., after farmers complained about the proposed type and routing of the power poles.
A panel chaired by U.S. Sen. Max Baucus on Tuesday approved an energy-tax package designed to boost alternative energy production and conservation - partially at the expense of big oil-and-gas producers. "This is a significant victory in our efforts to become more energy independent," said Baucus, D-Mont., who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. "We have more to do to address climate change, lower gas prices at the pump and wean America off of foreign sources of energy." The Finance Committee approved the $28.5 billion, 10-year tax package, which is expected to become part of a larger energy bill before the U.S. Senate this week. The package includes tax credits to encourage production of wind power, solar power, gas-electric hybrid cars, biodiesel fuel and "cellulosic" ethanol, which is produced from agricultural waste products.
LIVINGSTON - Some local governments in Montana are having second thoughts about entering the wind energy business despite the incentive of interest-free financing from the federal government. While some cities and counties remain enthusiastic about the idea, others are bailing out. Almost half remain uncommitted and the clock is ticking. The Park County Commission dropped out of the program this month, saying it involved too many unknowns. "It doesn't look like something we ought to hang our hat on right now," Commissioner Jim Durgan said. Similar sentiments reign in Carbon County.
NorthWestern announced plans Tuesday for a transmission line running from Montana to Idaho which it said could carry energy from developing wind power plants to power-hungry markets. The company, which has previously hinted at such a project, said the power line would be operated outside of its regulated utility business and would have no effect on consumer electric rates. A Montana Public Service Commission member, however, said the project could have an indirect effect on prices.
Brad Molnar was the only public service commissioner with the courage to vote against this feel-good idea, and he has been proven right. We need four more commissioners just like him.
Big property-tax breaks for developers that construct clean coal-fired power plants and transmission lines carrying "clean and green" energy were approved by Montana lawmakers on the final day of the special session. "This is a classic jobs and environment bill," said Evan Barrett, chief business officer in the governor's office of economic development.
Montana Dakota Utilities Co., says it plans a 20-megawatt wind farm near Baker, Mont., just over the North Dakota border.
The Bureau of Land Management and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation are seeking public comment on a revised proposal by Wind Hunter LLC related to the development of the Valley County Wind Energy Project north of Glasgow. The revision proposes that Wind Hunter LLC scale back the size of the proposed wind farm from 500 megawatts to 170 megawatts and the related transmission line from 230 kilovolts to 69 kilovolts.
Two proposed energy projects that include stringing transmission lines across miles of Teton County grazing and cultivated lands are taking two different regulatory paths.
Jan Falstad said that wind had gone from being "technologically challenged and too expensive - to being a popular and mandated goal." Perhaps more accurately, it should have read, "Wind has gone from being technically challenged and too expensive - to being technically challenged, mandated and taxpayer subsidized."
The open country north of Great Falls stretching to the Canadian border - long known for its wheat - may be about to see an explosion of a new crop. Harvested from towers twice as tall as the old Milwaukee Depot, with blades that reach nearly 400 feet into the sky, that crop is wind. The growth hinges on regulatory approval and construction of the Montana Alberta Tie, a 203-mile-long transmission line that would tie into the U.S. power grid at Great Falls and the Canadian grid in Lethbridge, Alberta.
The wind energy race is on in Madison County. Three companies are vying to put up towers to test the wind near Norris Hill, a first step toward building wind farms. But although the county is strongly supportive of developing wind energy, commissioners this week unanimously denied two requests to waive an ordinance requiring local, state and federal agencies to sign off on towers higher than 100 feet.