HELENA – The state Land Board on Monday approved a five-year option to lease for 3,080 acres in Wheatland and Meagher counties for a company proposing a wind farm in which the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind is expected to receive a total of $81,620.
The agreement was reached with Martinsdale Wind Farm for a proposed development that turns wind into energy. The trust would benefit the Great Falls-based Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind with option fees, if the option is held for five years.
The trust land is now being used by the Martinsdale Hutterite colony, which will share the property once wind farm towers are installed, state officials said. A report to the land board states the agriculture and grazing uses will be reauthorized through land use licenses.
The report notes the proposed wind development project is to be 200-300 megawatts and the trust land portion is proposed to contribute up to 10-30 megawatts, or 3-15% of the production capacity of the project.
The land has been locked up under a license, Gov. Steve Bullock said.
Jessica Hoag, DNRC property management section supervisor, noted that when a request for proposal was issued in 2007, there were no policies to issue leases for wind farm use. State officials decided to make changes as the expiration for the lease nears.
Monday’s action was to bring it before the land board to align the contract with current approval policies.
EDPR, the company behind the wind farm, expects the commercial operation to begin in 2022.
The option to lease is five years. If a lease is exercised, the company could being construction and development of wind power facilities on the trust lands, according to state documents. The lease includes a 30-year initial term followed by two 10-year renewal options.
The land board, which consists of the governor, secretary of state, state school superintendent, state auditor and attorney general, make decisions on state trust lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
These lands benefit public schools and other endowed institutions in Montana.
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