Governor visits wind farm near Fairfield
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.
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Wind energy engineering since 1991
Choteau Acantha Article – Industrial wind farm has broken ground in county–pub 3-30-16–
Choteau, Montana March, 30, 2016
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
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.
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Wind farm is planned near existing wind farm north of Fairfield.
Construction back on track at Greenfield wind farm after delay over taxes Karl Puckett, firstname.lastname@example.org 3:15 p.m. MDT March 30, 2016
(Photo: Tribune file photo/Karl Puckett)
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.
Court Denies Petitioners’ Plea To Halt The Clean Power Planby Joseph Bebonon January 22, 2016 No Comments Categories : Featured, Policy WatchOn Thursday, a federal court handed renewable energy stakeholders, environmentalists and the Obama administration a victory: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied a request to halt the implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) while an ongoing legal battle over the plan is sorted out.The CPP, which was first released in 2014 and finalized in August 2015, creates the first-ever regulations on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. It mandates a cut in carbon pollution from the power sector of 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.Although the renewables industry and other advocates have long lauded the CPP and deemed it a great opportunity for U.S. clean energy, a coalition of over 20 states launched a lawsuit to do away with the climate change initiative. Opponents also requested that the court block enforcement of the plan until the case is resolved.Ultimately, the court’s Thursday decision keeps the CPP in effect while the court works on the larger legal challenge. In its order, the court ruled that the opponents “have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay.”Although the court denied the request for a stay, it has scheduled to hear oral arguments on June 2, setting the stage for the next round of the battle.Nonetheless, proponents of the CPP have hailed the court’s Thursday ruling as a win.In a statement, Dan Whitten, vice president of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), says, “The decision by the court to allow states to continue work on their carbon-reduction plans under the president’s Clean Power Plan is a victory for advocates of clean energy everywhere. State regulators can now begin to incorporate a significantly growing role for solar power into their long-term energy planning.“Smart industry, financial and government leaders are already betting on the Clean Power Plan by moving forward with initiatives and policies to advance a clean energy economy,” continues Whitten. “The solar investment tax credit extension enacted late last year is a great example of recent policy that can speed emissions reductions.”The Environmental Defense Fund, which is a party to the case, has also welcomed the development.“Today’s court decision means we can continue working – without delay – to protect Americans from the clear and present danger of climate change,” says Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund, in a statement. “The Clean Power Plan encourages states to use their own best ideas and resources to create prosperous clean energy economies. It rests on a rock-solid legal foundation and will help America move toward a safer and healthier future.”According to a USA Today report, the White House press secretary issued the following statement: “We are pleased that the court has rejected petitioners’ attempts to block the Clean Power Plan from moving forward while litigation proceeds. We are confident that the plan will reduce carbon pollution and deliver better air quality, improved public health, and jobs across the country.”In a separate statement, Carol M. Browner, former EPA administrator from 1993 to 2001, has shown her support for the current administration’s climate change plan and applauded the court’s ruling.“Winning isn’t everything, but in this case, it’s pretty close,” says Browner, later adding, “It underscores the Clean Power Plan’s strong basis in law and signals that legal challenges to it will ultimately fall short. It’s time to stop suing to stay stuck in the past, and start working to usher in the clean energy economy of the future.”Categories : Featured, Policy WatchTags : clean power plan, clean-energy, cpp, epa, obama, renewable energy, renewables, solar, wind, wind-power
Congress Passes Omnibus Bill With Five-Year Wind PTC Extension
On Friday, both chambers of Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that includes a provision to extend the expired production tax credit (PTC) for five years. The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the legislation in a 316-113 vote, and the U.S. Senate followed suit shortly after with a 65-33 vote. President Barack Obama has signed the legislation into law.
Considered the U.S. wind industry’s most important federal tax incentive, the PTC provides wind developers with a credit of $0.023/kWh for electricity generated to the power grid. Although Congress passed a one-year retroactive extension for the PTC last December, the subsidy again expired almost as soon as the legislation was approved.
The new legislation will retroactively extend the PTC for this year. After that, the incentive would maintain at its level through 2016 and start phasing down at 80% of its present value in 2017, 60% in 2018 and 40% in 2019. As with previous extensions, the rules will allow wind projects to qualify as long as they start construction before the end of the period.
Notably, the legislation also includes an extension of the solar investment tax credit (ITC), which will also be subject to a phase-out. Solar projects that are under construction by December 2019 will fully qualify for the 30% ITC. The credit will fall to 26% for projects starting construction in 2020 and 22% for projects starting construction in 2021.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has applauded the legislation’s passage.“We’re going to keep this American wind power success story going,” says Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, in a press release. “With predictable policies now in place, we will continue advancing wind turbine technology, driving down our costs and passing the savings on to American families and businesses in all corners of the country.”
AWEA also points to several industry leaders who reacted to the news favorably, as they believe the multi-year extension supplies their companies with a level of predictability needed to keep U.S. factories open while adding new wind projects to the pipeline.“
Pattern will be expanding its project development for the coming year because of the PTC extension,” says Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy and chairman of the board for AWEA. “Having PTCs for five years will allow us to make more supply commitments and build more projects, creating more jobs. It also allows us to work with the turbine vendors to lower the cost of our projects and minimize the economic impact of phasing down of the credits.”
“On behalf of the nearly 2,000 Siemens wind energy employees in the U.S., I applaud Congress for its leadership in providing clear, long-term certainty for renewable energy growth in America,” says Jacob Andersen, CEO of Siemens Onshore Americas. “The PTC has encouraged tremendous investment in wind energy, helping to reduce the cost of wind power while simultaneously creating a new American industry.”
“The long-term certainty the legislation creates for the PTC provides EDP Renewables the opportunity to expand its competitive project development pipeline in the U.S., creating jobs while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, in a country that is at the core of EDPR growth,” comments Gabriel Alonso, CEO of EDP Renewables North America.
“This is a game changer for our company and will finally allow us to plan with certainty our growth and expansion over the next several years,” says John Billingsley, chairman and CEO at Tri Global Energy. “Tri Global Energy plans aggressive expansion of both our wind and solar divisions into diversified geographical areas across the U.S.”
According to AWEA, the PTC has helped to more than quadruple wind power in the U.S. since 2008 – up from 16,702 MW installed at the start of 2008 to 69,470 MW by the third quarter of 2015.
Furthermore, AWEA says the PTC has helped spur innovation in wind turbine technology, causing wind’s costs to fall 66% in just six years. The organization says this new multi-year predictability will help continue that trend and break the repeated boom-bust cycles the U.S. wind energy industry has weathered through two decades of uncertain tax policies.
In 2013, after the renewable energy tax credits were allowed to expire even briefly, installations of new wind farms fell 92%, causing a loss of 30,000 jobs across the industry that year. After Congress renewed the PTC, AWEA continues, the U.S. wind energy industry added 23,000 jobs the following year, bringing the total to 73,000 at the end of 2014.
U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has introduced legislation that he says would permanently extend the production tax credit (PTC) for renewables and drive over $500 billion in clean energy investments between now and 2030.The American Clean Energy Investment Act of 2015 and The Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act – both co-sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. – would significantly reduce carbon pollution and help put the U.S. on a path to more than double the size of its clean energy workforce to 10 million by 2030, says Sanders.The bills would allocate $41 billion to helping oil, gas and coal workers as they transition out of the fossil fuel industry. According to Sanders, the costs for these proposals are completely offset by repealing all subsidies for fossil fuels and ending the tax breaks that encourage corporate inversions.Sanders says The American Clean Energy Investment Act of 2015 would stimulate a strong, sustainable economy by spurring massive new investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.Specifically, the act would permanently extend the PTC for renewable electricity generation from sources including wind and solar. It would also permanently extend the investment tax credit for advanced clean energy property and expand the 30% credit for offshore wind facilities.The Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act would help coal miners and other fossil fuel workers and their families by connecting displaced workers with new job opportunities through vocational education and job skills programs. The bills would also provide support so that transitioning workers and their families could maintain family-level wages, health care and pensions until they are able to start new jobs, the senator explains.”The American Wind Energy Association [AWEA] deeply appreciates Sen. Sanders’ leadership in seeking long-term policy support to enable the growth of our nation’s wind energy sector,” AWEA says in a release from the senator. “This legislation is the latest example of his attention to wind energy and his leadership in promoting policies that will generate affordable, reliable and clean energy and provide a future for wind energy workers and American factories. We look forward to continuing to work with Sen. Sanders and his colleagues with the shared goal of delivering the benefits of wind energy to even more American families.”