Library filed under Impact on Landscape from Montana
The wind turbines are currently on hold due to a lawsuit from neighbors, claiming their property would have decreased value with the turbines obstructing their view. The petition put together by the Crazy Mountain Neighbor Coalition currently has more than 200 signatures from people across the state. Pattern Energy anticipates construction will begin in the spring of 2020.
A pair of stories in the last week detailed conflicts between San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) and national environmental groups over two separate wind projects. One of the conflicts appears to have been resolved amicably, while the other is headed to the courtroom. And each story involves the power of flight.
Excessive rutting caused by vehicles, disturbance of a Native American archaeological site and placing poles too far from fence lines has occurred during construction of the Montana Alberta Tie Line, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.
The plan calls for generating power that would be sent to the Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI) to fill in the line when wind power isn’t available. ...Tom Carlsen, a wildlife biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the state agency has "serious concerns regarding negative impacts to wildlife should this proposed project move beyond the feasibility study."
The project came as a surprise to those who live here. There was no community involvement before the announcement and has been very little since. The majority of landowners in the two-mile area surrounding the project are opposed to it. The turbines could be installed as early as next summer.
NorthWestern Energy may have the juice, but the people have the power. That was the overwhelming message Wednesday evening when area residents packed council chambers to tell commissioners they oppose the utility company's plans for a major transmission line through southwestern Montana. The crowd spilled into the hallway where another roughly 30 people stood and listened as residents voiced their concerns about the 500-kilovolt power line ruining the visual aesthetics of their rural property.
Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation recommends wind turbines be allowed on state land as part of what would be the state's largest privately owned wind farm. The Martinsdale Wind Farm is proposed by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy. It would be built on 18,000 acres of private and state land in Wheatland and Meagher counties, five miles northeast of Martinsdale. The DNRC has released a draft environmental impact statement on the project for public comment, which will be accepted until March 13.
Jerry McRae didn't mince words when talking about a high-voltage transmission line that will cross his land near here. "You're going to have a hell of a time building a power line in this community," McRae said. ...Construction on the line is scheduled to begin in March. "It can't be built without eminent domain in this community right now," McRae warned right off the bat.
Potential wind-farm development was the overriding reason why the state Department of Environmental Quality approved the proposed high-voltage power line that would tread its way across eastern Teton County between Great Falls and Lethbridge, Alta. Montana Alberta Tie Ltd., or MATL, with offices in Calgary, Alta., submitted an application under DEQ's Major Facility Siting Act program on Dec. 1, 2005, providing a variety of reasons why its proposed privately-owned, 230-kilovolt transmission line would benefit the region. ... Aggrieved parties who believe they are adversely affected by DEQ's decision have 30 days to appeal.
The state of Montana has given the green light to a high-voltage transmission line that could trigger millions in green energy production in northcentral Montana. The 600 megawatts of north-south capacity on the Montana Alberta Tie Line has been sold to NaturEner, Invenergy and Wind Hunter. ...Construction won't begin for six months because it will take that long to manufacture the steel poles, which are 90 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter, van't Hof said. Part of the line will also have wooden H-frame poles.
No matter where NorthWestern Energy Corp. proposes building a high power line through southwest Montana, it's an unpopular sell to people whose homes and land it would pass by. "Everybody else said no so you came through us," John Pullman, a landowner in the Boulder Valley, said during a meeting at the Cardwell School Monday that drew more than 45 people. That pretty much summed up the sentiment of landowners who are miffed that NorthWestern would propose a major power line through an agricultural valley. NorthWestern is planning to build a 500-kilovolt power line from Townsend to Twin Falls, Idaho, and has proposed three potential routes.
The Alberta Utilities Commission's approval Tuesday of the proposed Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. line was the final Canadian permit needed for the 240-kV AC line, which would interconnect electricity markets and carry 300 MW north and south. The commission said the proposed line satisfied its conditions, including a process for negotiating disputes with landowners. ...Wind farm developers in Alberta and Montana have fully subscribed the line for marketing power both north and south.
However, not all Montanans are ready to raise their glasses. Among the skeptics is Ursula Mattson of East Glacier. She said she is all for the benefits of wind development, but worries about a potential downside, mainly "the negative impact of these huge wind farms right in front of the most spectacular scenery in our country." ..."We don't have much authority over wind farms," said Kristi DuBois, native species coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Missoula. She likens the state's current level of knowledge about the wind industry and its potential effect on wildlife to what was known about the impact of hydro-electric facilities on rivers and fish when they were first constructed. For example, the state has very little information about migration pathways of bats, she said. Without that information, it's difficult to for the state to provide input on the siting of facilities to lessen bat fatalities from turbine blades, she said.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was an attempt to pave the way - almost literally - for energy companies to take advantage of pre-approved corridors that cut through public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The problem is that much of the land that would be pre-approved is in sensitive wildlife habitat and cherished wildlands. Routes were chosen more with an eye to economic efficiencies than environmental impacts, and the result is a plan that is blatantly skewed to favor the interests of the energy companies over the interests of the general public. ...The Energy Department recently released a draft of its Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and will be accepting public comment on the statement until mid-February. It plans to hold a public meeting in Helena on Jan. 29, but you can provide your comments now by going to its Web site at corridoreis.anl.gov. We hope Montanans from all over the state will take the opportunity to firmly oppose the plan as it's currently proposed, because it will take all of Montana to sink this awful idea.
Following complaints from farmers, the U.S. Department of Energy is now planning its toughest environmental review of a proposed $120 million power transmission line between Great Falls and Lethbridge, Alberta.... Wind farm developers have said the line is critical to construction of their projects. To date, three companies have signed up to use capacity on the line to ship power from wind farms they're planning between Great Falls and the Canadian border.