Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Glacier Wind Farm is state's biggest wind energy project
October 28, 2009

Last week was a week of good news for NaturEner USA, Montana Alberta Tie, Ltd., the State of Montana and Glacier and Toole Counties. Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Jose Maria Sanchez Seara, NaturEner USA's Chief Executive Officer, dedicated the second phase of the Glacier Wind Farm on Wednesday, Oct. 21. The Glacier Wind Farm, which is located in Glacier and Toole Counties, is the largest wind energy project in Montana.

"This windfarm is one of the reasons Montana is on the map as a leader in wind energy development," said Gov. Schweitzer. "With a total of 210 MWs, this is a significant contribution of clean and green, domestic energy to our region." San Diego Gas and Electric has contracted with NaturEner to purchase some of the energy produced by the project's 140 turbines. During the dedication ceremony, Ken Young, NaturEner's Director of Asset Management, provided a brief history of the project.

At the "land owner and local officials appreciation dinner" later that evening, Young expressed his gratitude to all those involved in the project. He said he has worked on projects in Texas and New York, but working in Montana has been an enjoyable experience. He described the area landowners as "good stewards" of the land, adding they are a "good fit" for NaturEner. Seara recalled his first trip to Montana three years ago to review the area, which now boasts 140 turbines and a $500 million investment by his company. "I know, I wrote the checks," he grinned. He, too, thanked the land owners involved in the Glacier Wind Farm project, describing them as "one of our company's most valuable assets."

Gov. Schweitzer pointed out it won't be long until the Glacier Wind Farm will be surpassed by another NaturEner windfarm, the Rim Rock Project, which is scheduled for construction 25 miles due north of the Glacier Wind Farm. NaturEner's projected investment in the 206-turbine windfarm is $800 million. At 309 MWs, the Rim Rock Wind Farm will be one of the largest in the Northwest and will create more than 500 construction jobs.

The Supreme Court of Canada, on Thursday, Oct. 22, dismissed the final appeal by an Alberta landowner group, which has been opposed to the construction of the $213 million Montana Albert Tie Ltd. (MATL) transmission line. With the Canadian high court's decision, all avenues for legal challenges and appeals have been exhausted and construction of the transmission line and NaturEner's Rim Rock Wind Farm can begin. "We are extremely satisfied with the decision from the Supreme Court of Canada," said Bob Williams, vice-president Regulatory, Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. "This was the last remaining road block and we plan to start construction as soon as possible."

The power line project has undergone a complex, comprehensive and lengthy regulatory approval process taking almost four years including public hearings, environmental assessments and stakeholder engagement at multiple levels in both Canada and the United States. "We will continue to engage with all the landowners, listen to their concerns and negotiate fair compensation for the use of their land," said Williams. "We are committed to being a good neighbour."

The 230-kilovolt line will run from Lethbridge, Alberta to Great Falls and will be capable of moving 300 MWs of power either north to south or south to north. Construction of the line provides a more reliable supply of electricity for southern Alberta and northern Montana and accesses the power grid for almost $1 billion in renewable wind energy projects in the USA.

In dismissing the appeal, the Canadian Supreme Court also awarded legal costs to Montana Alberta Tie Ltd., NaturEner Energy Canada Inc, and NaturEner USA, LLC.