Articles from Montana
GREAT FALLS, Mont. – A wind farm in Montana might be killing more birds and bats than expected, according to preliminary findings of a study by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
A preconstruction acoustic survey for bats predicted that the wind farm’s impact would be low, but the preliminary results of the study show it’s been higher than anticipated. Over the first six months of the post-construction study, FWP is estimating with 95 percent confidence that the turbines killed between 120 to 397 bats with the figure likely 221 or about nine bats per turbine.
On March 23 the USA division of the wind energy company, NaturEner, announced it had donated $50,000 to the Sunburst School District to help the small Montana town avoid having to lay off one or more of its 21 school teachers.
A state program that requires utilities to buy from small-scale, locally owned renewable energy projects in Montana is facing a do-or-die moment in Helena. Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, is pushing Senate Bill 78, which would eliminate the Community Renewable Energy Projects program. The bill passed a final vote last week in the Senate 30-19 and now moves into the House of Representatives.
The facility called the Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Project would use excess power produced by wind farms or other sources to pump water uphill to a 3,000-foot long reservoir, according to the license.
The PSC set the price Greycliff could charge NorthWestern Energy at $45.49 per megawatt hour, about 16 percent lower than the price needed to make the wind farm profitable. Greycliff was first proposed seven years ago. ...Greycliff needed a price in the mid-$50s, which would have been similar to the wind energy rate for Spion Kop Wind Project,
SDG&E agreed to help finance the Rim Rock project and purchase the power, but later sued NaturEner USA arguing it had been mislead about the threat to raptors. That prompted NaturEner to file a breach-of-contract counter suit against SG&E. The conditional settlement agreement to end the litigation was filed Feb. 11.
Customers who sign up send their energy bills to Arcadia and pay a small premium — about 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour of energy used. Arcadia then pays NorthWestern its share of the bill and uses the premium to invest in wind projects around the nation — none in Montana — with each investment theoretically offsetting carbon emissions used to provide that customer with power.
A startup that wants to build a 25 megawatt wind farm near Greycliff in Sweet Grass County claims it’s been frustrated at every turn by resistance from NorthWestern Energy and the state’s all-Republican Public Service Commission.
City College’s Taisei Techno windmill blew apart in Sunday’s windstorm. Airfoils that turn the power-generating turbine could be seen crumbled inside the framework.
Between Livingston and Billings the freeway passes through little towns easily forgotten, like Greycliff, a small community 10 miles east of Big Timber. The wind whips through there, which excites Rhyno Stinchfield. What’s an annoyance for some is opportunity to him.
The developers still have to persuade the Public Service Commission that there’s enough local ownership of the project to qualify as a Community Renewable Energy Project. In June, the PSC rejected Greycliff Wind because it wasn’t convinced that local owners had a 50 percent stake in the income, equity and voting rights of the company.
NaturEner, which owns and operates the Glacier Wind wind farms in Glacier and Toole counties, is offering a $2,500 reward for information on the gunshot vandalism of one of its turbines.
Construction of a 25-megawatt, 15-tower wind farm is expected to begin Monday seven miles north of here, following difficult negotiations between the developer and NorthWestern Energy, which will purchase the power.
The developer of a proposed wind farm near Fairfield asked the Montana Public Service Commission on Thursday to reconsider its prior denial of a power purchase settlement with NorthWestern Energy, which has blocked the project.
Commission Chairman Bill Gallagher, R-Helena, led the argument against the Greenfield contract, saying there would be many times during the 25-year contract that NorthWestern wouldn’t need the power it had to buy from Greenfield. NorthWestern then would have to sell that excess power into the market, sometimes at a loss, and “the difference in that price is going to be left to the consumer,” he said.
A dispute over a Montana wind farm’s potential to harm nearby nesting eagles and other birds should be heard in California, the Montana Supreme Court said Friday, in an opinion that deals a legal setback to the project’s developers.
Lightning struck one of the six wind turbines around 8:30 p.m. on Friday, hitting one of the blades and partially melting it.
SDG&E filed a lawsuit Dec. 19 in California Superior Court seeking to terminate the power purchase and investment contracts alleging NaturEner did not meet avian protections called for in the contracts. Late last month, it filed an amended complaint alleging NaturEner fraudulently concealed that federal wildlife officials recommend an eagle take permit.
Spanish developer NaturEner is denying fraud allegations by California offtaker San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) in a legal dispute over the 189MW Rim Rock wind farm in Montana. The utility claims NaturEner fraudulently concealed that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recommended the developer get an eagle take permit for the project.