Category: Wind News

Governor visits wind farm near Fairfield

IMG_0024IMG_0778Governor visits wind farm near Fairfield

By Karl Puckett, kpuckett@greatfallstribune.com 5:53 p.m. MDT May 31, 2016

Gov. Steve Bullock visited a wind farm near Fairfield on Thursday as part of a series of energy roundtables he’s conducting around the state.

Previously, Bullock conducted a solar energy roundtable in Bozeman at Simms Fishing Products and toured the building’s new solar panel array. He also toured a weatherization project at a home in Missoula and held a roundtable about energy efficiency efforts.

Bullock said he’ll use input from the roundtables to develop an energy plan he is expected to release late this month.

The state has an opportunity to expand the state’s energy portfolio, he said.

“We can help design what that energy future will look like,” Bullock said.

Bullock was scheduled to conduct another roundtable in Colstrip, home to a coal-fired power plant and a coal mine, on Tuesday.

The state’s future energy options will include coal but also wind, solar and hydro, Bullock said.

Recently, Pennsylvania-based Talen Energy, which owns a share of the Colstrip plant and operates the facility, said its role as operator is not economically viable and the plant’s five owners will need a new manager by May 2018.

“The wind is shifting under our feet when it comes to energy,” said Bullock, who conducted an energy roundtable on wind at the Montana Farmers Union in Great Falls following his visit to the wind farm near Fairfield.

The 13-turbine, 25-megawatt Greenfield project is located next to the six-turbine, 10-megawatt Fairfield Wind farm, which was completed in 2014.

Developer Martin Wilde of WINData LLC, said both wind farms are examples of smaller, community scale wind projects that involve local contractors and land owners.

“There’s great expertise in Montana for Montanans to build them,” he said.

Dick Anderson Construction of Great Falls is the general contractor. The power is being sold to NorthWestern Energy.

Allan Frankl of Dick Anderson Construction said 60 to 70 people will be working on the Greenfield project during the height of construction. Turbine components are expected to arrive later this month and be up by mid-September. The wind farm is expected to be producing power after Sept. 30.

Land owner Marvin Klinker said he’ll receive a percentage of revenue from the electricity produced at the wind farm.

Follow Karl Puckett on Twitter @GFTrib_KPuckett.

Energy plan to be released later this month

Source: Governor visits wind farm near Fairfield

Choteau Acantha Article – Industrial wind farm has broken ground in county–pub 3-30-16–

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Choteau, Montana March, 30, 2016

Industrial wind farm has broken ground in county–pub 3-30-16– 

By Nancy Thornton, Choteau Acantha reporter

A second industrial wind farm has broken ground southeast of Choteau, even as a wind farm half the size located on the new project’s western boundary was sold to a New York-based renewable energy investment company.

Teton County Commissioner Jim Hodgskiss said a Greenfield Wind LLC official, Matt Wilson, notified him that contractors would break ground during the week of March 20 for a 15-turbine wind farm next to the six-turbine Fairfield Wind project that was completed in May 2014.

The Teton County commissioners last summer approved a 10-year tax abatement for the proposed $47 million Greenfield Wind project while denying an abatement for the $19 million Fairfield Wind project.

Subsequently, Fairfield Wind appealed the state Department of Revenue’s determination that Fairfield Wind had a $19,118,781 market value. The matter is now before the Montana Board of Tax Appeals with all “discovery” documents due by April 25 and the hearing set for July 19.

Fairfield Wind’s 2015 tax bill was $323,569.83, an amount, with some later adjustments, that was paid under protest.

The Fairfield Wind farm is located in the Choteau elementary and high school districts and the proposed Greenfield Wind farm is in the Power High School and the Greenfield Elementary School districts.

Revenue officials estimated that Greenfield Wind would generate an estimated annual tax bill in the neighborhood of $863,000 under the cost approach, although with the tax abatement set for 50 percent during the first five years, local governments would receive only half of that.

Wilson works for Foundation Windpower LLC that owns a majority-member equity interest in Greenfield Wind LLC. The minority member of Greenfield Wind is Fairfield resident Martin Wilde who developed both wind farm projects under his company, WINData LLC.

Wilson and Wilde did not respond to invitations for telephone interviews.

WINData has filed two lawsuits against Foundation Windpower in Teton County District Court that Judge Robert Olson recently dismissed. However, WINData has appealed the two cases to the Montana Supreme Court.

In December 2015 Foundation Windpower sold its interest in the Fairfield Wind project (the legal entity at that point was called Fairfield Wind Master Tenant LLC) to Greenbacker Wind LLC, which is a business created by Greenbacker Renewable Energy Corp. and Greenbacker Renewable Energy Co. LLC of New York, New York.

Greenbacker, in a December press release, said it acquired the Fairfield Wind project for $6,615,000 in cash and the assumption of $12,412,000 in debt for a total of $19,027,000 on Dec. 8, 2015. It is a “publicly registered, non-traded limited liability company that expects to acquire a diversified portfolio of income-producing renewable energy power plants, energy efficient projects and other sustainable investments,” according to its website.

The wind farm has two 1.6-megawatt and four 1.7-megawatt turbines. The generated electricity is sold to NorthWestern Energy under a long-term power purchase agreement that has 18.5 years remaining on the contract.

Greenbacker, citing the project as a “fund portfolio” for its investors, forecasts a 10.7 percent initial yield on the investment, but cautioned in its literature that that yield is not a measure of the fund’s performance and it is not necessarily indicative of distributions that the fund may provide to investors.

Wilde has had disputes with Foundation Windpower since mid-2015 and in court documents said he filed a notice of dissociation with the Fairfield Wind entity over Foundation Windpower’s refusal to supply him with accounting information, among other things. He refused to sign off on Foundation Windpower’s proposed monetary value of WINData’s 10- percent equity interest in Fairfield Wind and he declined to agree to the sale.

However, Foundation Windpower’s attorney Stephen Brown of Missoula successfully argued in Olson’s court in February that the operating agreement the pair of companies signed required that the dispute be brought in a California forum, not one in Montana.

Brown successfully argued a similar point when in July 2014, the Montana Supreme Court found in favor of San Diego Gas & Electric Co., (against Naturener USA that owns wind farms in Glacier and Toole counties) determining that the “consent to conduct all” provision of the first contract between the two parties required the parties to litigate all disputes Industrial wind farm has broken ground in county–pub 3-30-16– 2 pertaining to that contract in California. Brown represented San Diego Gas.

In a similar way, Olson dismissed Wilde’s lawsuit against Foundation Windpower, first in the dispute over Fairfield Wind, and second, over the Greenfield Wind project information, even though WINData remains a minority member of that latter limited liability company. In that case, the venue for dispute resolutions was set in Colorado, a neutral location. Olson agreed to dismiss that complaint against Foundation Windpower because of the valid forum selection clause in the operating agreement, without making any decisions on the merits of WINData’s complaint.

Great Falls Tribune – Construction back on track at WINData’s Greenfield Wind farm after delay over taxes

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March 30, 2016

Construction of a 25-megawatt, 13-turbine wind farm seven miles north of Fairfield is back on track, according to the developer.

Martin Wilde, principal engineer at WINData LLC, said Wednesday that foundations are being poured at Greenfield wind farm.

“We’re moving ahead,” Wilde said.

Wilde is partnering with Foundation Wind Power of San Francisco in developing the project.

Dick Anderson Construction of Great Falls is the general contractor.

Towers and turbines will be erected this summer, Wilde said. The goal is to have construction completed by September.

“Our goal has been to keep money in Montana to help Montana communities leverage the wind power opportunities to the full extent,” Wilde said.

Greenfield wind farm is located next to the six-turbine, 10-megawatt Fairfield wind farm, which was completed in 2014.

Construction was halted at Greenfield last summer over property taxes.

At the time, Foundation Windpower said the first property tax bill for the existing Fairfield wind farm came in higher than expected.

Foundation Windpower then applied for tax abatements seeking tax breaks for both the operating Fairfield wind farm and the proposed Glacier wind farm.

An abatement means that the developer will receive a 50 percent tax cut over the first five years with taxes gradually increasing to 100 percent at the end of the 10th year.

Jim Hodgskiss, Teton County commissioner, said commissioners granted a tax abatement for the Glacier project because it still hadn’t been constructed, but denied the abatement for the Fairfield project because it already was completed.

About half of the total tax reduction for the Fairfield wind farm, or about $2 million, would have been shifted onto the rest of the tax rolls if commissioners would have approved the abatement after the wind farm already had been constructed, Hodgskiss said.

“We didn’t feel it was right to shift it back to the rest of the taxpayers after it was built,” Hodgskiss said.

Follow Karl Puckett on Twitter @GFTrib_KPuckett.

Wind farm is planned near existing wind farm north of Fairfield.

Source: Construction back on track at Greenfield wind farm after delay over taxes

North American Windpower: Clean Power Plan: A Climate Change Civil War In Court?

The Clean Power Plan is a contender for the title of most controversial environmental rule promulgated in the history of the U.S. The rule has prompted more than half of the states in the country to file petitions challenging its adoption and, thereby, has caused many of the remaining states to intervene in its defense.Beyond the states, the vast majority of energy interests in the U.S., as well as major municipalities and non-governmental organizations, have all entered the fray either in opposition or support of the rule. Given the extraordinarily divisive nature of this rule, the litigation is almost certain to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.This titanic battle should lead even the most casual of observers to ask: What is the plan all about?The short answer is that the Clean Power Plan is designed to transition the nation’s energy profile away from fossil fuel generation. Technically, it is a rule adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act. The rule sets emission rate reductions for carbon dioxide (the most prevalent greenhouse gas) for each state in the country, with the ultimate compliance deadline set for 2030. States are to then develop plans for achieving the rate reductions either by reducing the carbon intensity of existing fossil fuel generation through improved performance, or by transitioning to lower-emitting and zero-emitting energy generating facilities (such as natural gas and renewables).In concept, using regulation to change our nation’s energy portfolio is not a new idea. Over 30 years ago, then-President Jimmy Carter addressed the nation on energy policy and explained, “We will use … regulatory authority to hasten the shift from oil and gas to coal, to wind and solar power, to geothermal, methane, and other energy sources.” Fast forward to today, and with tax credits that support renewable energy development set to expire at the end of 2016, much of the focus is now on whether “regulatory authority” can be properly used to “hasten the shift” to alternative energy sources.Enter the Clean Power Plan. The litigation over the Clean Power Plan is in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Under the Clean Air Act, a petition to review a rule such as the Clean Power Plan that has “nationwide scope or effect” is automatically directed to the D.C. Circuit. Currently, the petitions challenging the rule and accompanying motions to “stay” the effect of the rule are pending further briefing by all of the parties, and will not be resolved until next year at the earliest.The challenges to the merits of the Clean Power Plan can be distilled down to two primary arguments. The first argument is that the Clean Power Plan improperly requires a substitution of energy sources (i.e., changing from fossil fuel to renewable energy). The states argue that this far exceeds the authority granted to the EPA by the Clean Air Act. In particular, the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to adopt a “standard of performance” reflecting “the degree of emission limitation achievable through the application of the best system of emission reduction.” The challenging states argue that the “substitution” of energy sources is not a statutorily authorized standard of “performance” such as “improved design and operational advances.” To bolster this argument, the challenging states further assert that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act is not entitled to deference in the field of regulating the electrical grid, as that has traditionally been reserved for the states and, to a limited extent, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.The second argument is that the Clean Air Act precludes the EPA from regulating existing stationary sources under the section invoked for the Clean Power Plan. For the Clean Power Plan, the EPA has invoked Clean Air Act Section 111(d), but that provision states that standards of performance shall be established for existing sources for any air pollutant that is not emitted from a source category regulated under Section 112. The states argue that existing power plants are already regulated under Section 112 and, thus, the Clean Power Plan is not authorized and amounts to double regulation. The anticipated response from the EPA is that the prohibition applies only to the specific “pollutants” regulated under Section 112; it is not a blanket prohibition shielding the “sources” from further regulation of pollutants that are not encompassed under Section 112. The challenging states have requested that arguments on their motions to stay the Clean Power Plan be scheduled for spring 2016. They have further cautioned that, if no stay is granted, this rule “will impose immense sovereign and financial harms upon the states, on a scale exceeding any environmental regulations the states have ever faced.”One has to ask whether the courts are equipped to wrestle with these high-stakes issues of national energy policy. However, with congressional action virt

Source: North American Windpower: Clean Power Plan: A Climate Change Civil War In Court?

North American Windpower: Report: U.S., Mexico Winds Continued Below Normal Trend During Q2

Wind production during the second quarter was below normal across most of the western U.S. and Mexico, according to Albany, N.Y.-based AWS Truepower’s quarterly wind bulletin.According to AWS, winds were below normal across most of the western U.S., Mexico, India and the Philippines but above normal across most of Central and South America, Europe, and the Pacific Ocean and vicinity.Overall wind speeds across much of the U.S. rounded out the quarter well below normal – continuing the pattern from the previous winter, according to AWS, which notes that the Northeast through Midwestern and Appalachian states experienced higher-than-normal wind speeds through the quarter.As for Mexico, AWS notes that most of northern Mexico experienced winds less than 10% to 20% below the norm. Strongly above-normal wind speeds persisted to the south from the Yucatan Peninsula down through South America and into northern Brazil as well as the extreme south of the continent.

Source: North American Windpower: Report: U.S., Mexico Winds Continued Below Normal Trend During Q2

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