A plan to build the largest wind farm in the world should be a part of the decommissioning plan for Colstrip Units 1 & 2 and Plants 3 & 4.
Training the workers that will be displaced to build operate and maintain the wind turbines could be part of the economic mitigation the companies are promising as they stop using coal. Moving to green energy skills could keep many people in Colstrip economically viable well into the future. The existing transmission used for the Colstrip power plants is also ideally equipped to haul future wind generation to the large electric demands out of state. The companies involved should be glad not to let those transmission assets become obsolete.
Furthermore, to meet the challenge of scheduling and shaping an unprecedented large wind-energy farm into a reliable valuable resource; the Colstrip power plants could be converted to natural gas and used to smooth the power generated from the wind. Natural gas is cleaner than coal and abundant in Eastern Montana, this would guarantee many high-wage jobs remain in Colstrip to modernize, convert, operate and maintain the power plants for the next 50 years.
The converted power plants could be used to smooth the power generation from a wind farm taking advantage of the abundant wind in southeastern Montana, making Eastern Montana the clean energy envy of the world. Learning the job skills of doing the power plant conversions and wind farm build-out would be skills that would translate to good jobs all over the world for the next generation.
I would encourage all the citizens of Eastern Montana to lobby the government and private companies to get this done. Montana becoming the world’s largest source of wind generated electricity could give new meaning to “Big Sky Country.”
West Richard, W.Va.