Articles filed under General from Montana
The impact of a proposed Great Falls-to-Alberta power transmission line on farmers and the environment are spelled out in a new study of the project, which state and federal regulators released Monday. Montanans, concerned about both, had asked for more information. "The cumulative impact analysis has been upgraded," said Tom Ring of the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Major developments in the regulatory review of what would be the first merchant transmission line between Lethbridge, Alberta, and Great Falls are occurring north and south of the border. The Montana Alberta Tie Line, which is expected to spawn wind farms in northcentral Montana, would be owned by Tonbridge Corp., a Toronto-based energy firm. State officials announced Friday that an environmental study of the project would be released for public review sometime next week.
The Montana Alberta Tie-Line has been given conditional approval for the 230-kilovolt power line that will import and export electricity between Lethbridge, Alta., and Great Falls, Mont. The Alberta Energy and Utility Board said in a news release late Thursday afternoon that the Montana company must hold discussions with affected landowners along the approved route "to address the mitigation of specific impacts" on them. The board also ordered that Montana-Alberta Tie-Line must report back to them about this process by April 30. The board says it will not issue a permit for the project "until it is satisfied that MATL has satisfied this requirement." The $129 million project was approved by the National Energy Board last April and the Alberta board was the last step.
One of those developers, Madison Valley Renewable Energy LLC, was recently chosen by Montana to use state school trust lands in Madison County for a wind power project, in exchange for a percentage of its gross revenues, said Mike Sullivan, a property management section supervisor with the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. School trust lands, of which there are about 5 million acres in surface lands and more than 6 million in subsurface acres in Montana, are leased in a variety of ways to raise money for public schools. Sullivan oversees commercial leases of the trust lands, which is the smallest yet highest revenue-generating section, he said Wednesday. Other sections provide leases to farmers, ranchers, mineral prospectors and timber harvesters. The agreement with the state provides the energy company with 4,000 acres in exchange for 3.1 percent of the wind farm's electrical generation revenues, Sullivan said.
"Utilities in Montana are not incentivized for risk. They strive for boring meetings," she quipped, but added that one of the biggest problems with wind energy is that one requires a "firming" source such as hydroelectric or natural gas generators to offset the variability of the wind generation. NorthWestern buys reserve energy from Washington and Oregon to firm the energy it receives from the Judith Gap wind farm. "It's getting harder to get firming energy. It's a very real problem," she said, meaning that it will cost more in the future. ... She said NorthWestern is going forward with a 500 kv direct-current line, the Northern Lights project, that would be a "superhighway" to Nevada, although the regulatory process involved is time-consuming. She said northcentral residents have a huge interest in the MATL line but she added that NorthWestern Energy, to which MATL would connect, requires that the wind energy must be firm before it interconnects. "It will be a wind race," she said, for a developer to complete all the requirements.
A wind farm southeast of here started generating power Saturday and could be fully operational by the end of the month. ...Providers of wind power must have a backup source, called "firming power," which MDU has from other sources, to keep transmission lines loaded and energy delivery consistent. "Wind is a good supplemental, but it just can't be your base load because the wind doesn't always blow," Hanson said. MDU has researched and tried to get into the wind power business for about 25 years, Hanson said. Those projects, which were to be built and owned by other companies, didn't come to fruition.
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 ...
A top executive with the owner of the state's largest wind farm - in the area to meet with landowners about leasing land - said Tuesday that the company is planning to build four to six additional wind farms in Montana. Three of the preferred sites are located between Great Falls and the Canadian border. ...Johan van't Hoff, the president of Tonbridge Power Inc., and Bob Williams of Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. also spoke at the meeting. Tonbridge owns Montana Alberta Tie, which is developing a 210-mile, $150 million transmission line between Great Falls and Lethbridge, Alberta. Invenergy is one of three wind developers that purchased capacity on the proposed line with the intention of constructing wind farms.
An agreement that could make Valley County the site of one of the most advanced wind farms in the United States is awaiting approval by the Chinese government, according to The Glasgow Courier. GreenHunter Energy Inc., a Grapevine, Texas-based developer, announced the pending acquisition of interest in People's Republic of China-based MingYang Wind Power, which will soon be one of the largest manufacturers of wind turbines in China, according to the report.
Representatives from Carbon and Albany counties have settled on how to distribute about $600,000 in impact assistance funding expected from a planned wind farm near Medicine Bow. Most of the money would go to Carbon County, Medicine Bow and Hanna.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. This, according to the chief executive behind the proposal.
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.