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Second wind farm going up near Fairfield

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Second wind farm going up near Fairfield

Karl Puckett, kpuckett@greatfallstribune.com 7:41 p.m. MDT May 1, 2015

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(Photo: Tribune photo/Karl Puckett)

FAIRFIELD – Construction of a 25-megawatt, 15-tower wind farm is expected to begin Monday seven miles north of here, following difficult negotiations between the developer and NorthWestern Energy, which will purchase the power.

It’s called Greenfield Wind LLC.

The Montana Public Service Commission, which had rejected a settlement agreement on the power purchase price between NorthWestern and WINData LLC on Dec. 16, reconsidered and approved the 25-year contract March 4.

Now construction can proceed.

“Getting the power contract has been the biggest challenge here,” WINData CEO Martin Wilde said at the Greenfield site.

On Thursday, stakes marked the locations where towers will begin rising in August and September. A strong breeze was blowing 18 mph, which is typical.

“This is perfect wind,” Wilde said.

The Greenfield wind farm is 1.5 miles to the east of the 10-megawatt Fairfield wind farm, which Wilde completed a year ago.

Wilde, an early pioneer of wind development in Montana, would like to see more projects like the Fairfield and Greenfield wind farms constructed by Montana-based, independent power producers, but it isn’t easy, he says.

“In this case, they kind of had it out with us, and we sort of held our own and settled,” Wilde said of negotiations with NorthWestern.

WINData has a 20-year contract to sell power generated at the 10-megawatt, six turbine Fairfield wind farm to regulated utility NorthWestern Energy.

It negotiated a 25-year deal with NorthWestern for the Greenfield energy.

NorthWestern argued that the price of the electricity, $50.49-per-megawatt hour, was too high, Wilde said, and “we fought back.”

NorthWestern always gives prime consideration to how a price will be reflected on the bills of NorthWestern’s 342,000 electricity customers in Montana, NorthWestern spokesman Butch Larcombe said.

“And a lot of times the developers have a different price in mind than we do,” Larcombe said.

The U.S. Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 created a new class of generating facilities called “non-utility generators” or “qualifying facilities” that would receive special rate and regulatory treatment.

One of the goals was to encourage development of renewable energy.

Greenfield is a qualifying facility.

In Montana, the Public Service Commission has established two categories of qualifying facilities, Wilde said.

One is the standard size, which is a maximum of 3 megawatts. Those projects come with “standard offer” contracts, and negotiations are not required.

Qualifying facilities that are larger than the standard size require negotiations, and the Greenfield wind farm is the first large QF wind project negotiated and approved in Montana, Wilde said.

Instead of NorthWestern producing the power, Wilde said, it is purchasing green energy from an independent power producer, bringing diversity to its power mix, Wilde said. WINData carries the risk for generation, not NorthWestern’s ratepayers, he added.

When NorthWestern needs power the most is at times of peak demand, when it’s very cold or hot, Larcombe said.

“And unfortunately, a lot of times, that’s when the wind isn’t blowing,” Larcombe said. “We have concerns about the wind’s ability to meet the needs of our portfolio at this point.”

Wilde started out in the wind business in Montana in 1991. He’s owned his own companies and also worked for the U.S. Department of Energy.

He’s investigated many sites for wind potential in state. That leg work has attracted large wind developers, he said.

“We were trying to get commercial wind energy in Montana,” he said.

Today, Wilde owns WINData LLC based in Fairfield.

While Montana has seen some successes in wind development, Wilde says the development climate is poor compared to other states such as Texas.

“It’s like learning how to box in prison,” Wilde said. “It’s a difficult environment to do wind, period.”

The export of wind-generated electricity from Montana could be robust, but Wilde says the NorthWestern seems intent to stick with hydro and coal generation.

Larcombe, NorthWestern Energy’s spokesman, defended the utility’s efforts to own and purchase renewable power.

NorthWestern owns or has contracts with 17 different wind projects in Montana with a capacity of 282 megawatts, he said.

“To say we’re not interested or haven’t been involved in wind production really isn’t an accurate statement,” he said.

When NorthWestern purchased PPL Montana’s hydroelectric facilities in November, it changed the look of the utility’s energy portfolio, he said.

The dams are helping NorthWestern meet the typical needs for electricity in Montana, he said.

Wind in the Fairfield area doesn’t blow trains off the tracks, as it’s been known to do in locations such as Browning, Wilde said.

However, there is always a breeze.

General Electric turbines that produce 1.7 megawatts each will be erected at the Greenfield wind farm.

The distance from the ground to the tip of the blades will be 422 feet, or about 42 stories.

They are the largest wind turbines in the state, Wilde said.

“They lend themselves to calm but constant winds, which is the kind of wind we have here,” Wilde said.

The wind farm should be connected to the grid by November, Wilde said.

WINData is partnering with Wind Power of San Francisco, which will help to arrange financing through large investment banks, Wilde said.

It usually costs about $2 million per megawatt to build a wind farm, which would put the project in the $45 million to $50 million range.

Dick Anderson Construction out of Great Falls has been hired for the job. GE will assist in installing the turbines.

The 15 wind towers will stand on a ridge in two rows on a ridge overlooking wheat and hay fields.

The land is being leased from four property owners who will receive royalties based on production.

“So this is an additional crop for farmers,” Wilde said.

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Karl Puckett at 406-791-1471, 1-800-438-6600 or kpuckett@greatfallstribune.com.

via Second wind farm going up near Fairfield.

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Fairfield Wind ready to go online mid-May 2014 » WINData LLC

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Fairfield Wind ready to go online mid-May 2014

Published on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 15:43

Martin “Marty” Wilde

Turbine #3 operating at the 10MW wind project near Fairfield, Montana. the project was developed by WINData LLC of Great Falls Montana, financed by Foundation Windpower and constructed by Dick Anderson Construction of Great Falls. The output will be sold to NorthWestern Energy under a 20-year contract.

via Fairfield Wind ready to go online mid-May 2014 » WINData LLC.

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.

New Wind Farm For Teton County, Montana

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Development has started on a new wind farm that will soon rise above the wheat fields of Teton County, Montana.

When completed, the $19 million Fairfield Wind project will include six commercial scale turbines standing 398-feet tall, with a combined total of 10 mega watts of generating capacity.

“It has broken ground, and we expect to complete commissioning by June of 2014,” said John Pimental, ofFoundation Windpower, a wind power engineering and development company out of San Francisco.

Foundation Windpower and WINData, a wind power consulting and project management firm located in Great Falls jointly own the Fairfield Wind project.

via New Wind Farm For Teton County, Montana.

Gregg LeBlanc « WINData LLC

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Gregg LeBlanc

Chief IT Systems Architect

MS Chemical Engineering

LeBlanc is a Masters level chemical engineer and has over 10 years experience in the real-time data software industry and over 17 years of IT experience. He worked for OSIsoft for nearly 10 years and has worked with utility, petrochemical, refining, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies to develop software solution architectures that suited their needs. Le Blanc has worked with WINData since early 2008 and is the co-architect of WINDataNOW Technologies.

via Gregg LeBlanc « WINData LLC.

Marty Wilde « WINData LLC

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Marty Wilde

Principal Engineer

MS Engineering

Marty Wilde brings a long-term seasoned technical, scientific and utility business perspective on the wind industry. Mr. Wilde’s strategic thinking and engineering expertise, dating back to 1991, is highly respected by major utilities, investors and wind energy experts. Mr. Wilde is Principal Engineer and CEO of WINData and provides leadership to the WINData team in all areas of met tower design, siting, installation and wind data analysis. Mr. Wilde launched his wind energy business in 1991 to develop commercial wind projects and provide development services to the growing wind industry. He has worked as a project developer, managing engineer and scientist for numerous commercial and government teams since 1984 and has extensive experience supporting both public and private sector organizations.

via Marty Wilde « WINData LLC.

Personnel « WINData LLC

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WINData principals have been in the wind energy resource assessment business since 1991 and have initiated the identification and successful development of wind energy assets across the US over the past 21 years.

WINData provides master level services in: project management and supervision, proposal preparation and RFP response, landowner research, pursuit and execution of lease agreements within project areas, met program design and tower installation, environmental assessments and permitting, plant design/layout, wind resource reporting, turbine specification, plant output modeling, title research and mapping of sites, assistance with project financial modeling, financing application support and wind integration and forecasting data services.

WINData’s PE and CEO, Marty Wilde provides a long-term seasoned engineering and business perspective to the wind industry, which comprises strategic thinking and technical expertise dating back to 1991. Wilde is Principal Engineer and CEO of WINData, WINDataNOW! Technologies LLC and Wild Madrone, LLC and is a veteran Researcher, Project Engineer and Business Development Specialist.

WINData personnel offer expert services in wind energy development, also in design, development and installation of advanced meteorological measurement systems.

via Personnel « WINData LLC.