Montana wind energy project on hold

Posted at 11:02 AM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 13:02:23-04

HELENA – A developer is proposing a 320-megawatt wind energy project in south-central Montana.

This comes with battery storage for the power it produces, but the project is on hold due to an impasse in negotiations over rates with NorthWestern Energy.

The Beaver Creek project would include four, 80-megawatt wind farms north of Columbus. They will have battery storage that enables the project to provide a steady flow of power.

Developers say it would create 350 jobs during construction as well as $4 million a year in property taxes to Sweet Grass and Stillwater counties. But Beaver Creek owners claim NorthWestern Energy is not negotiating in good faith over the rates it would pay for that power.

The developer is now asking the Montana Public Service Commission to settle the issue. PSC spokesman Bowen Gowen says the commission will hold a hearing, take evidence and then issues a ruling.

“It’s already a settled matter under federal law that the utility will have to buy that power. The question is, how much. One of the things that makes this an interesting facility, technically speaking, Beaver Creek isn’t one qualifying facility, it’s four,” Gowen said.

“They actually have 300 and some megawatts, and it’s broken into four facilities, to put it under the 80 megawatts. So I’m sure that that will probably be involved in the hearing at some point.”

NorthWestern Energy says that it will answer Beaver Creek’s claims in a written filing with the PSC.