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 Montana is Wind Country

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Montana leads the nation in wind energy power potential and the state is at the center of North America's wind heartland. Wind energy is clean and renewable and provides the green complement to Montana's world-class reserves of coal as well as oil and natural gas. Much of Montana's wind has yet to be tapped and represents a great investment opportunity.

 Montana Wind Resources

Wind Energy Objectives

Combining wind energy with conventional and advanced fossil power sources offers a stable "green" energy package that meets the growing demand for cleaner energy while advancing the national goal of energy independence. Our mission is to support all types of wind development, from industrial scale wind farms to locally owned community wind models serving individual farms, businesses and homes, as well as the construction of electric transmission lines that deliver Montana's wind power to high demand markets.

Wind Energy Assets

Montana is the fourth largest state, but #1 in the nation for wind speed (class 3 and above), available on a wide expanse of federal, state and private lands. The majority of wind sites are located in low population areas and near rural communities that strongly support wind energy development, avoiding objections to visual impacts. Some counties, such as Cascade County, offer developers GIS based maps providing information on wind resource classification, roads, transmission lines, property ownership and topography. County officials stand ready to introduce potential developers to land owners and turn prospects into projects.

Montana's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) currently requires regulated utilities to purchase 10% of their annual electricity supply from renewable sources and increases the standard to 15% in 2015.

Wind Projects

Four major industrial scale wind projects have gone on line in Montana since 2005, moving Montana from a ranking of 50th to 15th in the nation in wind energy production:

Rimrock Wind Farm, 189 MW

In October of 2011 NaturEner USA began construction on the 189 MW wind farm near Shelby, MT. Once Rim Rock is in operation, NaturEner will own 70% of the wind generation in the State of Montana, with approximately $800 million invested. NaturEner held its opening ceremony for this the project on September 14, 2012 as the project neared completion. This project will connect to the Montana Alberta Tie Limited (MATL) transmission line which is expected to be complete near the end of 2012. Rim Rock's Commercial Operation Date (COD) is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2013. Glacier and Toole Counties will receive new tax revenue of $2.5 million thanks to the Rim Rock Wind Farm. Landowners involved in with the project will be paid $1.5 million in annual royalty payments. Construction of the project contributed over $40 million to Montana's GDP and operations will contribute $5 million to the state's GDP. The Rim Rock project will supply enough electricity for approximately 60,000 U.S. households per year.

  • Judith Gap Wind Farm, Wheatland County: 135MW, 2005
  • Horseshoe Bend Wind Park, near Great Falls: 9MW, 2006
  • Martinsdale Colony South, Wheatland County: 2 MW, 2006
  • Diamond Willow Wind Farm, near Baker: 30MW, 2008
  • Glacier Wind Farm, near Shelby: 210MW, 2008
  • Gordon Butte, Meagher County: 9.6MW, 2012
  • Under Construction: Over 200MW anticipated online by the end of 2012

Environmental Considerations

Wind energy is clean, renewable, and produces zero green house gasses (GHG's). Avian studies show impacts to birds can be mitigated, and low population area locations minimize visual impact objections. Market demand for clean power is continuing to grow; California alone will need an additional 21,000MW and is legally demanding that imported electricity meet the "green" standards adopted in 2005.

Transmission to Market

New market delivery paths planned and/or in development for Montana windpower:

  • Havre to Rainbow and Wolfe Point to Williston Transmission Upgrades
    These two Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) projects upgraded the existing lines from161 kV to 230 kV
  • Montana Alberta Tie, Ltd. (MATL)
    The Montana Alberta Tie Line (MATL) is a 600 MW, 215 mile merchant (private) transmission line connecting Great Falls and Lethbridge, Alberta. The line is expected to be complete by the end of 2012.
  • Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI)
    Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI) is a proposed project from NorthWestern Energy to provide 1,500 MW of new transmission capacity on a 500 kV line between the Butte area and mid-point Idaho. This project is in permitting and would be built between substations located near Townsend and Jerome, Idaho.
  • BPA / Colstrip 500 kV Transmission Line Upgrades
    NorthWestern Energy is commissioning technical studies on a project to increase the capacity of the existing high voltage transmission line from Colstrip to the west coast by up to 750 MW. NorthWestern is working with the Industry Development Program, Pacific Corp, Puget Sound Power, Portland Electric and BPA.
  • Chinook
    TransCanada's Chinook (formerly Northern Lights) is a proposed 800 mile, 3000 MW high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line connecting eastern Montana through Townsend to Las Vegas, Nevada, with target markets in Las Vegas, Southern California and Phoenix.

Additional corridors on federal and private lands are currently being identified through federal processes.

Federal Incentives

  • Corporate Depreciation
  • Corporate Exemption
  • Tax Credit
  • Federal Grant Program
  • Federal Loan Program
  • Industry Recruitment/Support
  • Personal Exemption
  • Personal Tax Credit
  • Production Incentive
  • Public Utilities and Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA): The law requires utilities to purchase energy from non-utility generators or small renewable energy producers that can produce electricity for less than what it would have cost for the utility to generate the power, or the "avoided cost."

State Incentives

Montana adopted a state renewable energy portfolio standard in 2005 requiring 15% renewable power by 2015. Listed below are other incentives available from the state of Montana:

  • 15-6-201 (4) MCA -- Property tax exemption for buildings using renewable energy
  • 15-6-225 MCA -- Property Tax exemption for renewable generating facilities under 1 MW
  • 15-24-1401 MCA -- Property tax reduction for renewable generating facilities 1 MW or more
  • 15-31-124 MCA -- New or expanded industry tax credit
  • 15-32-201 MCA -- Tax credits for individuals installing nonfossil forms of generation
  • 15-32-401 MCA -- Alternative energy investment tax credit
  • 15-72-104 MCA -- Exemption from wholesale energy transaction tax