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Company to add more wind farms in Montana

CONRAD – The company that owns the state’s largest wind farm is planning to expand it and build four to six more in Montana, one of the company’s top executives said.

Chicago-based Invenergy LLC is so bullish on the state’s wind potential that it recently hired a full-time employee to oversee the development of Montana projects, said Mark Jacobson, director of business development for Invenergy.

Jacobson, who is based in Invenergy’s Littleton, Colo., office, was in Montana this week to meet with landowners who own property at three of the company’s planned wind farm sites.

Invenergy has projects in the works near Cut Bank, Conrad and Great Falls, Jacobson said. He declined to specify where other projects may be developed, but said Invenergy also is planning to put up three to five additional meteorological towers in Montana. The towers measure wind speed, wind direction and temperatures.

Invenergy recently spent $1 billion on 2,100 megawatts worth of wind turbines for projects planned in the United States, including Montana. It also is planning an immediate 53-megawatt expansion at the 135-megawatt Judith Gap facility once it finds a buyer for the additional capacity, Jacobson said.

Invenergy is one of three wind developers that purchased capacity on a proposed transmission line between Great Falls and Lethbridge, Alberta, with the intention of constructing wind farms.

Jacobson said the company is working with private companies, such as Montana Alberta Tie, that are trying to get new transmission lines built.

“You have to get into the transmission queue system to start creating momentum,” he said.

Invenergy is looking to sell power generated from the state’s wind to Montanans, as well as customers in Idaho, Nevada and Washington, he said.

Associated Press

Billings Gazette

20 December 2007