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MISSOULIAN EDITORIAL: PSC should approve wind power deal – WINData LLC

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MISSOULIAN EDITORIAL: PSC should approve wind power deal

December 28, 2014 7:00 am

Even as one of the biggest wind energy projects in Montana broke ground near Bridger this month, the state’s Public Service Commission was deciding to deny a contract between NorthWestern Energy and the developers of a new wind power project. That decision, if allowed to stand, bodes ill for new wind development in Montana in the immediate future.

Greenfield Wind is proposing a 25-megawatt wind-power project near Fairfield. The agreement between NorthWestern and Greenfield would allow the energy company to buy power from the wind farm for $54 per megawatt-hour for the next 25 years. That, as reports have pointed out, is less than the cost of power from the 11 hydroelectric dams NorthWestern bought earlier this year.

The PSC approved that purchase, which will provide power at a rate of about $57 to $58 per mWh — even though the deal could cost ratepayers as much as $800 million in excess costs, according to one expert analysis, and will mean a direct rate increase for NorthWestern’s electric customers of more than 5 percent.

With that recent history, it was perplexing to see the PSC get hung up on the wind power agreement on a 3-2 vote. Apparently, the three commissioners who voted against the deal have concerns that NorthWestern was putting itself on the hook to purchase energy it may not need. NorthWestern, not surprisingly, disagrees with the commissioners’ conclusion.

What is somewhat surprising is that the PSC’s own staff, after reviewing the agreement, noted that adding the wind energy from this contract to NorthWestern’s portfolio would actually result in lower costs for consumers. It’s also worth mentioning that even as the PSC was deciding against this deal, wind power developers across the nation were seizing an opportunity afforded by Congress in the final days of the session through a wind production tax credit. The credit applies only to new projects started this year, and with only a few days left in the year, developers are hurrying to get their shovels in the ground.

The developers of the 120-turbine Mud Springs Wind Ranch in Carbon County were among them. Thanks to the tax credit, the $550 million project stands to recoup 2.3 cents for every kilowatt hour of power it produces.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen Jon Tester, D-Mont., was among those calling for a long-term extension of wind production tax credits starting in the new year. He seems to understand that such incentives help encourage new wind power development, and that Montana, as one of the places in the nation with the most wind potential, is in a prime position to gain from increased wind development.

This kind of activity at the state and federal level helps point which way the wind is blowing. But even setting all that aside, PSC Commissioners Bob Lake, who represents the region that includes Missoula, and Travis Kavulla found nothing in the duly negotiated contract between NorthWestern and Greenfield worth killing the deal; rather, they found that the mutually beneficial settlement to be in the best interests of NorthWestern’s 340,000 ratepayers in Montana.

Greenfield officials have said they plan to ask the PSC to reconsider its decision. This time, the three commissioners who voted to deny the deal — Roger Koopman, Kirk Bushman and commission chair Bill Gallagher — ought to pay closer attention to the information provided by their own staff and the arguments of their colleagues on the commission.

via MISSOULIAN EDITORIAL: PSC should approve wind power deal.


MISSOULIAN EDITORIAL: PSC should approve wind power deal – WINData LLC.


Climate Parents | Senator Wyden: Restore support for wind power!

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I just signed a letter calling on U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Congress to renew the vital tax credit for wind and other sources of renewable energy. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) helps wind energy compete with highly subsidized fossil fuel industries, attracts investors for new wind projects, fosters innovation and employs tens of thousands of Americans in the clean energy economy.

Because of wind energy’s growing success, dirty energy billionaires, like the Koch brothers, campaigned to kill the renewable energy credit program. Congress is at a crossroads.

Will they support policies and industries that increase carbon pollution, fueling climate-related disasters? Or will they take action to promote safe, clean energy that will allow us to stabilize the climate?

As incoming Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Wyden will play a major role in deciding which direction Congress goes.

Please join me in telling Senator Wyden to renew the renewable energy tax credit now:

By signing the letter, you will send a message the future of our kids and and the stability of our climate are priorities that deserve urgent attention. Thank you for taking action!

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION via Climate Parents | Senator Wyden: Restore support for wind power!.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality DEQ – Wind in Montana

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Wind in MontanaMontana has wind, lots of wind. The state is ranked among the top five for wind power potential and several large, utility-scale wind farms are in operation. The total capacity of installed commercial wind turbines is more than 500 megawatts. In 2009, Montana ranked 9th in wind electricity generation by state, producing 820,924 MWh of electricity. More than 3 percent of the electricity generated in Montana that year came from wind, a percentage that is even higher today. Judith Gap Wind Farm, Credit: Montana Film OfficeThe following links offer more information about wind and wind development opportunities in Montana. Tax and Other Incentives Wind Data Sources Montana Wind Power Map Permit Requirements Developing Wind Energy on State Lands Basics for Small Wind Energy Systems Net Metering and Easements Wind Powering America U.S. DOE Wind Organizations Commercial Wind Projects Small Wind Installations in Montana AWEA Small Wind Turbine Market Report Wind Powering Montana Workshop Presentations Big Sky, October 3, 2001

via Montana Department of Environmental Quality DEQ – Wind in Montana.

NaturEner – Natural Energy for a Sustainable Future – NaturEner USA Participates in Project to Improve Wind Power Forecasting

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NaturEner USA has partnered with WINData LLC and OSIsoft, LLC to improve forecasting of ramp events for the Glacier Wind farms in Montana. The effort is a DOE funded research project to improve forecasts of ramps events for wind farms, titled “Use of real-time off-site observations as a methodology for increasing forecast skill in prediction of large wind power ramps one or more hours ahead of their impact on a wind plant”.

NaturEner is uniquely interested in improving wind forecasts because the Glacier Wind farm operates as a wind only balancing authority, and improved forecasts are the most cost effective way to improve reliability and reduce integration costs. Toward this end, NaturEner has specified performance metrics to quantify the ability of the forecast to predict ramp events. WINData and OSIsoft have created a grid of next generation offsite meteorological sensors in the region around the wind farm, and have contracted with Garrad Hassan to help develop WINDataNOW Technology, a novel forecasting approach to incorporate these measurements. The OSIsoft PI software is being used to collect and transfer the data to Garrad Hassan, and to display the forecasts and measurements to NaturEner’s real time scheduling desk. WINData and Garrad Hassan are presenting promising preliminary results at the UWIG forecasting workshop. NaturEner is now receiving the forecasts and will evaluate their performance operationally.

via NaturEner – Natural Energy for a Sustainable Future – NaturEner USA Participates in Project to Improve Wind Power Forecasting.

WINDataNOW! Example Applications « WINData LLC

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Customers can use their data for any number of applications that pertain to site selection, farm design, and forecasting or day to day operations of a farm.

Example applications include:

Better design validation before site construction commences

Better, more predictable wind site operation

Gap analysis between performance potential vs. actual performance for use in service level agreement compliance, accounting, and manufacturer warranty claims

Customized analytics to help with reporting to power offtakers, transmission system operators, regulatory agencies and joint venture or partner companies

Upstream weather observation-based “feed-forward” scheduling for site operation planning

Combining upstream weather observations with complex forecasting models to increase confidence in day ahead and intra- hour power predictions

Customers can perform routine calculations on a real-time basis as data arrives to the system rather than in batches. These calculations can also be augmented over time so that some users can start simply and expanding their analyses as they discover more applications of interest.


WINDataNOW is leveraging operating wind plants and technology partners to better describe the possibilities for using high fidelity, real-time meteorological data for wind farm site selection, design and operation.

WINData professional services comprise meteorological (“met”) system array design, tower specification, project installation and data integration to support end user wind integration requirements and forecasting data services. WINData has partnered with OSIsoft to develop “WINDataNOW!”, an advanced meteorological measurement system built on PI, for use as framework for tools used by wind energy system integrators, forecasters and plant operators.

OSIsoft delivers the utility industry standard COTS PI System, which provides secure access across various elements of utility infrastructure, from fuel source, generation, transmission, distribution, AMI, and below the meter data/information services, comprising a complete end-to-end view of the smart grid and utility “enterprise”.

In addition to the owner/operators, the PI system is used extensively by the various Transmission System Operators as the real-time basis for the EMS networks, integrating the various generation sources into the grid. The WINDataNOW! solution provides real-time PI to PI transfer of processed information directly into the scheduling coordinator and system operator environments.

via Example Applications « WINData LLC.