Ameresco Inc., the 99% owner of Montana Wind Harness (MWH), announced today that Montana Wind Harness has signed long-term leases for its major wind sites in Montana. This is one of several major milestones successfully completed by Montana Wind Harness in the development of 150 megawatts of wind power in the state.
“With these signed leases in hand,“ said Doug Barba, Executive Vice President of Ameresco, “we are on schedule to begin construction of this $150 million project later this fall.”
“We started out looking at 13 major sites in Montana,” said Barba, “As we gathered wind data, those 13 sites were narrowed to locations in Cascade, Glacier, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Stillwater and Wheatland counties. We now have signed long-term leases for our key sites. Each of these sites has commercial wind resource potential. We have complete data for the site at Cut Bank, in Cascade County, and we continue to gather data from the other sites. So far, the wind data from the other sites is comparable to the Cut Bank site, and confirms the potential of Wind Energy in Montana. We will complete our analysis of our other sites in the next three months. The main point is Montana Wind Harness has the land under lease to complete the project pursuant to the terms of our contract with NorthWestern Energy”.
The Montana Wind Harness project employs “state-of-the-art” European wind turbine technology that is far different from the turbines Montanans have previously seen. Previous generations of wind turbines were relatively small and difficult to maintain. The large, up to 1.5 megawatt turbines, that Montana Wind Harness will install are graceful giants that have been proven in installations across Europe. Each turbine will generate enough electrical power for more than 1300 homes.
“Each of our sites will have 35 to 40 of these turbines,” Barba said. “We ultimately will develop three sites from those that are under consideration.”
Montana’s wind has been harnessed by each generation of Montanans. For over 100 years, Montanans have used our wind to pump water for livestock. In more recent years, wind turbines near Livingston have been used to generate electricity on a limited scale.
“Our current project is much different,” said Barba. “Montana Wind Harness will erect up to 115 turbines, and generate over 100 times the power of the Livingston turbines. We view this as only the start for wind power in Montana. The owners of Montana Wind Harness hope to develop future projects in the state after we have put these turbines successfully on-line.”
“The analysis of wind data has been most gratifying”, said Barba. “We have installed numerous wind data collection instruments call anemometers. By using correlating data from nearby sites, Montana Wind Harness is developing the appropriate data necessary to finance the project. Our consultants are excited about working with us and our lenders to show the commercial viability of our sites. The Montana Wind Harness project will develop three large scale wind sites in Montana once the Public Service Commission approves the Default Supply Rate Case presently under review” said Barba.
Montana Wind Harness plans to close bank financing this summer and begin construction in the fall.