Published March 1, 2005 | March 2005 issue
NorthWestern Energy has signed an agreement to buy up to 150 megawatts of electricity from a $150 million, large-scale wind farm being developed in Wheatland County. The contract, contingent on approval by the state Public Service Commission, is the first major investment in wind power in Montana. Invenergy Wind LLC, an affiliate of a Chicago-based wind developer, plans to erect 75 to 100 wind turbines on an 8,000-acre tract near Judith Gap this spring. Under the proposed 20-year contract, wind would provide about 8 percent of the electricity consumed by NorthWestern Energy's small-business and residential customers at a price—about $31 per megawatt hour—competitive with power produced from other sources. Figured in that price are federal production tax credits, available to wind farms that begin operating by year's end.
The Judith Gap wind farm is the second utility-grade wind project under way in Montana. Last year Exergy Development Group of Missoula won approval for a 9-mw wind farm on the outskirts of Great Falls.