Wind Power News: Montana
These news and opinion items are gathered by National Wind Watch to help keep readers informed about developments related to industrial wind energy. They are the products of the organizations or individuals noted and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of National Wind Watch.
If talk is cheap, political talk is even cheaper. We can thank our governor for reminding us of this, when he vetoed two bills, unanimously endorsed by the PSC, that would have provided consumers with well-deserved protection against rising energy costs. Steve Bullock won the election by convincing enough people that his brand of big government would somehow help working folks and people on fixed incomes. But the game is over, the crowd went home, and the scoreboard reads: Radical . . .
HELENA – NorthWestern Energy, the state’s largest electric utility, is attempting to use the courts, the Legislature and state regulators to severely restrict any new power it must buy from small, independent wind power projects in Montana. NorthWestern says it’s merely trying to manage its electricity “portfolio” and prevent unneeded costs of these contracts from being foisted on consumers. “There is a limit on how much (wind power) we can have and still have a reliable portfolio for customers,” says . . .
The state Senate Monday narrowly killed a measure to allow homes and businesses to install larger renewable-power systems that can sell excess power they generate back to the utility. The Senate voted 26-24 to kill Senate Bill 247, which supporters said would help create more work for businesses installing individual solar- and wind-power systems in Montana. “I think it’s clear from what we know about the way the (law) has been used, that Senate Bill 247, at its core, is . . .
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. Landowners and executives from companies and utilities that build power and pipelines were on opposite sides of the debate. At issue was Senate Bill 180, sponsored by Sen. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon. It would repeal the explicit grant of authority to a public utility or a developer . . .
VALIER — Voices crackled above a bitter-cold wind as workers stringing conductor on the Montana Alberta Tie Line transmission project, situated on opposite sides of the Marias River, communicated via radio north of here earlier this week. They were about to string the final span of the long-time-coming project — a nearly 4,000-foot stretch across the Marias River. “It’s our largest span on the project,” said Rocky Elliott, a safety representative for Enbridge, the developer of the power line, watching . . .
HELENA — Supporters of small, renewable electricity producers say the chairman of the Montana Public Service Commission removed a report from the commission’s official state website after testifying in favor a bill written by NorthWestern Energy, the state’s largest utility. On Wednesday, the first item on the PSC’s website was a brightly colored graph and a link to the report, which detailed in easy-to-understand charts and graphs exactly where NorthWestern Energy buys electricity and how those sources of electricity impact . . .
HELENA – Utility companies and environmental groups alike Thursday spoke in favor of a proposed legislative study of Montana’s nearly eight-year-old mandate for utilities to produce renewable power, saying it’s time to evaluate its impacts on industry, consumers and the state. Sen. Alan Olson, R-Roundup, the sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution 6, which calls for the study, said there’s been much discussion about the mandate, pro and con, since it began. A legislative study over the next 18 months can . . .
ANACONDA – The developer behind a proposed wind farm in Anaconda will resubmit its bid to NorthWestern Energy following the recent extension of federal tax credits for wind power production. Congress, as part of the final deal to avoid the much-dreaded fiscal cliff, passed a one-year extension of the wind Production Tax Credit originally set to expire at the end of 2012. The extension now allows Exergy Integrated Systems to figure a more competitive pricing of its 19.2-megawatt wind farm . . .
Montana’s Public Service Commission, with its newly minted 5-0 Republican majority, chose Commissioner Bill Gallagher as its new chairman Monday. And Gallagher, a Helena attorney, wasted no time in spelling out what he sees as the panel’s central thrust: That it opposes using subsidies or mandates to promote any type of power, particularly wind power. In a clear reference to wind power, Gallagher said all five of the PSC’s Republican members “campaigned against the concept of using the utility bill . . .
HELENA – When the new, all-Republican state Public Service Commission convenes next Monday, the regulatory body will chart a different path, members say – and likely choose a new chairman. “I think we need a little bit of a change of direction in the PSC,” says Commissioner-elect Bob Lake, R-Hamilton. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have run for it.” Incoming and current members say those changes will be a PSC that presses hard for the lowest-cost energy, regardless of whether . . .