Montana Governor supports wind energy at the launch of Glacier Wind Farm

Via Great Falls Tribune: NaturEner, a renewable-energy company that entered the North American market in 2007, officially broke ground last Thursday on the first phase of the 210-megawatt Glacier wind farm, in Montana.

The official debut of the project for the public brought NaturEner officials to North Central Montana from the company’s headquarters in Madrid and the U.S. headquarters in San Francisco.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who has supported tax breaks to lure projects such as the Glacier Wind Farm to the state, also attended. He also thanked developers for choosing Montana and the Montana Legislature for passing the tax incentives for renewable-energy projects. “Wind energy means that’s American energy, produced in Montana with Montana workers” The governor said.

This wind project will increase Montana’ s commercial wind power production by more than 200%.

The first phase of the project calls for 71 turbines producing 106.5 megawatts of electricity. Completion of that phase is scheduled for October. Another 103.5 megawatts from 69 turbines are planned in phase two. The electricity produced in the $500 million wind farm is headed for California. San Diego Gas and Electric (SDGE) has a power purchase agreement with NaturEner for the entire 210 megawatts of power from the Glacier Wind Farm.

NaturEner

Jose Maria Sanchez Sear, NaturEner’s CEO of U.S. operations, said the company is planning an additional 300 to 500 megawatts in Montana projects, including a possible expansion of the Glacier Wind Farm. These expansions depend on whether the Montana Alberta Tie Line is approved. MATL is a transmission line proposed between Great Falls and Lethbridge, Alberta.

Toole County Commissioner Allan Underdal said tax revenue in that county from the Glacier Wind Farm will be $2.1 million its first year of operation. “I think it’s a positive thing we use an energy source that just irritated us in the past,” Underdal said. Landowners will also earn a percentage of the revenue produced by turbines on their land.

Bill Alexander, the developer from NaturEner supervising the project, said the turbines were built at the plant in Iowa (West Branch) owned by Spain-based Acciona. The blades were constructed by LM Glasfiber and the towers were built by DMI Industries, both of which are located in North Dakota.

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