Library from Montana

Environmentalists have narrow focus

Environmental groups are not concerned with energy costs to low-, fixed- or middle-income citizens. Their only mission is to ban coal use. They don't care if the new coal steam plants are very clean. They don't care that by capturing half of the carbon dioxide, a coal plant is comparable to a gas plant. Environmental groups are insisting that electric generating plants be natural gas or a wind/natural gas combination. By the way, wind coupled with natural gas is more expensive than straight natural gas generation and always will be.
11 Nov 2007

Tax credits add wealth to foreign wind firms

In a nutshell, if you have taxable income, it is reduced by $19 for every megawatt of wind electricity for every hour it is produced. For the top five wind farm owners listed above that comes to about $10 billion. Those $10 billion are not shifted to the deficit. They are shifted to regular taxpayers. Yup, even though none of the top five produce any electricity consumed in Montana, you still get to pay for it with your tax dollars. And what did you get for your tax dollars? Not much. By and large, nothing got built. Existing generation was bought, and the tax incentives were activated, making you a conscripted investor in their acquisition schemes and dreams. Guess that's another loophole Congressman Rehberg can work on with Sens. Tester and Baucus. Of course, that $10 billion is gone with the wind.
8 Nov 2007

Wind development in Glacier County

Currently, Glacier Electric is working with four developers who have requested interconnection or capacity on our transmission system. We are working closely with Northwestern Energy on these projects. Northwestern Energy is the Control Area Operator and is responsible for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission process that outlines the handling of all transmission interconnection requests. ...Navitas Energy (MN), Invenergy (IL), Naturener USA (CA) and SnowBreeze Wind Development (FL) all hold respective queue positions for transmission capacity on Glacier Electric's transmission system.
1 Nov 2007

Regulators gearing up for power line final reviews

After a summer of relative quiet on a proposal to build a transmission line between Montana and Alberta, the project is again generating news as it heads toward the backstretch of its final regulatory races. Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. has sold to three wind farm developers its proposed power line's total capacity of 600 megawatts (300 mw in each direction) between Great Falls and Lethbridge, Alta., through eastern Teton County. The company, a subsidiary of Tonbridge Power of Toronto, Ont., reported on the Tonbridge Web site that it would have low costs while it yields $28.4 million in revenues the first year it is in operation.
10 Oct 2007

Guest Opinion: America needs wind energy, but not every site is right

As we look to increase the use of wind power, some discussion about the suitability of specific sites for wind development makes sense. Just as there are a lot of opportunities in the state for wind energy development, there are also some places that are better left as they are today. That's the crux of the concern that The Wilderness Society and other conservation and sportsmen organizations expressed concerning a proposed wind project in Valley County. A Texas-based company, Wind Hunter, proposed developing a 20,000-acre project on Bureau of Land Management, state and private land that included 334 turbines and a new 34-mile transmission line. The project was proposed for development immediately adjacent to one of the most remote, wild, and picturesque places left on America's northern prairie, the Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area/Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
3 Oct 2007

Energy rhetoric versus reality

We're all for energy conservation and alternative energy sources being brought online as part of an overall U.S. energy strategy that also includes developing traditional energy sources, regardless of opposition from the enviro-regulation litigation industry. But reality has to fit in that strategy somewhere, not just feel-good rhetoric.
2 Oct 2007

Power line hearings set to begin soon

The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board will begin hearings Oct. 16 on the Alberta portion of a proposed cross-border power transmission line connecting electric systems in the Canadian province and Montana. ...Landowners who oppose the plan will be part of the process, along with wind-farm developers who would benefit from construction of the new transmission line. The proposed 215-mile, 230-kilovolt line would be a conduit for 600 megawatts of electricity ...Building the line is projected to cost about $120 million.
1 Oct 2007

DEQ studying impacts of proposed power line

A number of the comments called for additional analysis of the wind farms, Ring said, "but we don't regulate them." "We can't require wind farms to give us information," he said. Nonetheless, regulators are asking for additional information from developers considering projects around the MATL line, he said.
30 Sep 2007

Proposed wind farm shrinks in size

A 500-megawatt wind farm north of Glasgow that was shelved after running into opposition from environmentalists will be revived as a 50-megawatt project, the chief executive behind the proposal said Monday. The Valley County wind farm had been suspended earlier this year after several environmental groups lined up against the project over concerns its 400-foot tall turbines would loom over an adjacent wilderness area.
25 Sep 2007

Wind in state is more talk than power

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.
23 Sep 2007

Ill winds for Montana power project; investors turn to California

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.
23 Sep 2007

McCormick Ranch wind farm plans progressing

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.
29 Aug 2007

Natural gas-fired power plant starts annexation process

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.
15 Aug 2007

Why not wind instead of coal?

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.
12 Aug 2007

City set to invest in "clean energy" bonds for wind power options

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.
12 Jul 2007

DOE requires more analysis on proposed MATL power line

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.
27 Jun 2007

Alternative energy package advances

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.
20 Jun 2007
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