Developer resubmits proposal for Anaconda wind farm

2013-01-18T05:57:00Z 2013-01-19T21:23:39Z Developer resubmits proposal for Anaconda wind farmBy GEORGE PLAVEN Montana Standard The Billings Gazette
January 18, 2013 5:57 am  • 

ANACONDA – The developer behind a proposed wind farm in Anaconda will resubmit its bid to NorthWestern Energy following the recent extension of federal tax credits for wind power production.

Congress, as part of the final deal to avoid the much-dreaded "fiscal cliff," passed a one-year extension of the wind production tax credit originally set to expire at the end of 2012.

The extension now allows Exergy Integrated Systems to figure a more competitive pricing of its 19.2-megawatt wind farm atop C Hill, a proposal that has drawn mixed reactions in the Smelter City.

Officials with the Montana-based Exergy met with Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Chief Executive Connie Ternes-Daniels on Wednesday to discuss moving forward with the project.

“The county has a goal to support renewable energy development here, and we will continue to work with them,” Ternes-Daniels said.

Exergy initially submitted the proposal to NorthWestern Energy in August, when the wind tax credit remained in doubt. The credit, at 2.2 cents per kilowatt over 10 years, applies to all wind energy projects under construction before the end of the year.

NorthWestern, meanwhile, must generate at least 15 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2015, as mandated by the 2005 Legislature. The utility sent out a request seeking community-based renewable energy projects that could produce up to 40 megawatts.

Butch Larcombe, spokesman with NorthWestern, said they received about 30 proposals – most from wind-based projects. Some are already eliminated from consideration, while others remain under evaluation.

Those still in contention had a chance to re-price their bids with the tax credit extension in mind, though NorthWestern is not accepting any new proposals.

“We’re just trying to look at projects that will make sense for ratepayers and NorthWestern Energy,” Larcombe said. “Obviously, we are interested in renewable energy. We have a legal standard, and we are close to being at that point.”

The Public Service Commission would ultimately have to approve any of the proposed projects.

If selected, the Anaconda wind farm would consist of eight 400-foot tall turbines and have the capacity to power an estimated 6,000 homes. Wind data previously collected from C Hill indicate it is an adequate source for development, according to Exergy.

C Hill is also located near an existing NorthWestern transmission substation.

Peggy Beltrone, project manager with Exergy, said she is confident their proposal is solid and priced right for consumers.

“We believe the newly priced Anaconda project will stand out among the renewable proposals, and that NorthWestern will come to the same conclusion,” Beltrone said in an email.

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