Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Montana
A bill that would roll back some of the eminent domain powers granted by the 2011 Montana Legislature was debated Tuesday in Helena before a packed house at the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.
As a safety precaution, residential wind towers would be banned within 1,000 feet of schools under new zoning rules proposed in Cascade County. ...Different setback rules - the height of a wind tower in addition to the blade length plus 20 feet - are proposed when wind towers are proposed in the vicinity of private property.
Cascade County is considering creating setbacks to protect properties from wind development, including schools. But should schools be exempt from the rules? That's the question Cascade County commissioners must decide, Planning Director Brian Clifton said.
NorthWestern Energy said it is seeking permits for a natural-gas-fired power plant near Anaconda, Mont., and hopes to start building the plant next year. ...The $206 million plant would be used to stabilize the electric grid and allow NorthWestern to take more wind power onto the system, company officials said. ...PSC Commissioner Ken Toole welcomed the permit application. He said such a plant could allow for the production of more wind power plants, which require so-called "firming" power to fill in the gaps when winds are not blowing.
According to Dave Ryan, president of the Montana Renewable Energy Association, Montana is ranked No. 5 among the states in terms of wind resources. "There is pretty good potential here," said Ryan, "particularly the down slope winds along the front range." Ryan stresses that the secret to tapping wind energy, as with real estate, is location, location, location. "Wind is very microclimate-sensitive, which means it can vary greatly from one area to another. Just because your neighbor has a productive wind turbine is no guarantee that you will."
Travelers driving Interstate 90 west of Big Timber may one day glimpse wind turbines at the Coyote Wind project. But well in advance of that day, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is seeking comments on the proposal that would occupy a state school section roughly 11 miles west of Big Timber, four miles northeast of Springdale and two miles north of Interstate 90 and the Yellowstone River. ... Bollman said the DNRC is trying to address any concerns upfront. Since the development of Montana's first major wind farm in Judith Gap, the public has become more engaged in the process,
Plans for a 133-turbine wind farm and associated 10 miles of transmission line north of Valley City in Barnes County will be heard by the Public Service Commission at back-to-back hearings May 2 in Valley City. Ashtabula Wind, a project of Florida Power and Light, needs site authorization to construct the wind farm, which will generate 200 megawatts of electricity. It also needs authorization for the transmission corridor to build a 230 kv line to hook up to Otter Tail Power. The company asked the PSC to hold a joint hearing, but the agency said it wanted to hear each application separately.
A public hearing on what would be the first merchant transmission line between Canada and the United States drew 100 residents to Great Falls on Tuesday, with economic development officials and elected officials singing its praises and farmers raising concerns. ...For the state to approve the project, the DEQ's Tom Ring said it must find that the line has a minimal impact on the environment and is consistent with regional plans for expansion of the electric grid, while serving the public's interest. The state has only denied one transmission project in the past. Como said MATL would be the first merchant line between Canada and the United States. There is one small line connecting Mexico and the U.S. Traditionally, transmission was constructed by regulated utilities, such as the old Montana Power Co. In the case of a merchant line, a company builds the transmission, and separate power generator entities pay to use it.
A Texas company with Portuguese backing is working with state natural resource officials in central Montana to develop a 300-megawatt wind farm - twice the size of the state's largest existing wind project. Horizon Wind Energy would erect up to 100 turbines near Martinsdale, about 80 miles east of Helena, to tap into winds sweeping through the Musselshell River valley. Horizon had been solicited to develop in the area by the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. The agency owns about 2,400 acres of school trust land within the 19,000 acre project site. ...Gene Leary, 67, owns a ranch within a few miles of the proposed wind farm site. He described wind farms as "visual pollution" and said he worries such projects could mar central Montana's scenic vistas, driving down property values and discouraging tourism.
The project, known as the Montana Alberta Tie Line, has secured financing and Canadian regulatory approval, said Johan van't Hof. But the chief executive of the project's parent company said federal and state approval in Montana has been delayed. ...The Montana Alberta Tie Line wants to receive its permits so that wind farms can be built in time to get federal tax credits that expire at the end of the year, van't Hof said. ...Environmentalists have been critical, worrying it could be used to transport electricity from greenhouse gas-producing coal plants.
The message gets repetitious: There needs to be more electrical power transmission capacity in and from North Dakota ... more transmission capacity ... more ... So, isn't the answer as simple as stringing a bunch of lines? The fact is, no. The power has to have somewhere to go and must travel by an extraordinarily complex network of technology. For our area it's managed by a strange entity called the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator. ...The snag is the process of hooking in a new power source. ...Midwest's queue has 224 wind projects, a 64 percent increase in one year. Not all will make it through the process; actually only 32 percent will end up connecting and producing. About 40 percent of requests drop out before even commencing the required FERC study. And 10 percent of those in the queue don't help matters at all, because they're just sitting on approvals ...
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.
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.
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.
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.