Posted: Sep 14, 2012 7:15 PM by Jen Fenter - MTN News
Updated: Sep 14, 2012 9:43 PM
CUT BANK - Hundreds of people gathered on Friday to celebrate the NaturEner Rim Rock Wind Farm welcoming ceremony.
The wind farm is home to 126 turbines just north of Cut Bank.
Shelby mayor Larry Bonderud says there are big benefits for the surrounding communities, including 45 full-time jobs and more than $2 million in tax revenue coming in to the community.
He explained, "That money, part of it, will be for local schools, part of it will be for local county roads, part of it will be for local hospitals. So those local dollars are spread out to a wide variety of county functions and so everyone benefits from this."
The initial investment to make this project a reality is estimated at more than $400-million dollars, and NaturEner officials believe it will pay for itself in the years to come.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer was on hand for the event, and he said that this wind farm represents the future for Montana: "Just in the last eight years we've gone from less than one megawatt of electricity produced, and when we finish this project it'll be 650 megawatts - more than $2 billion dollars invested in wind energy in Montana and thousands of high paying construction jobs. Wind is good in Montana."
The turbines on the Rim Rock wind farm were energized two weeks ago.
The project is expected to be commercially operational by the end of November.