LIVINGSTON – A Minnesota company interested in developing wind power in this area of Montana is negotiating with landowners, a company spokesman says.
Outland Renewable Energy also has been talking to potential investors, said Pat Pelstring of Wind Energy Developers, which works for Outland.
The preliminary proposal calls for installation of about 25 wind turbines, each about 400 feet tall. The 2.5-megawatt turbines would occupy an area of 4 or 5 square miles.
Pelstring would not disclose specifics of the site, saying no deals are final.
Outland said in a news release that it has invested $120,000 in a new company, Central Montana Renewable Energy, that will develop the project if it moves forward.
Outland is building a $75 million, 50-megawatt plant in Cottonwood County, Minn., and has four other plants in development. The company, formed by five Minnesota farmers, uses a business model similar to what Midwestern farmers have used to build ethanol plants.
Under that model, Outland and local investors would provide seed capital of about $900,000 for engineering, contracting, environmental analysis, permitting and other technical requirements. Then the project would be sold to a large equity investor, the source of construction financing, Pelstring said.
That investor would reap most of the return from electricity sales, plus the federal tax credits for renewable energy. The investor also agrees, upfront, to cede the company back to the original investors at a predetermined time.
Under this model, most of the long-term profits from the wind farm are returned to local owners, Pelstring said.
The project faces some hurdles.
Montana already exports half of the electricity it produces, and the state has a scarcity of transmission lines.
NorthWestern Energy is examining ways to increase transmission capacity but is not in the market for more wind energy, spokeswoman Claudia Rapkoch said. That could change, she said.
A call seeking comment from the Park County Commission was not returned immediately Friday.
By The Associated Press
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