The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is recommending that wind turbines be allowed on state land as part of what would be the largest privately owned wind farm in Montana.
The Martinsdale Wind Farm, proposed by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy, would be built on 18,000 acres of private and state land in Wheatland and Meagher counties five miles northeast of Martinsdale.
The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has released a draft environmental impact statement on the project for public comment, with comments being accepted until March 13.
A final decision will be made 30 days after the comment deadline on whether to allow the use of state-owned school trust land for either wind turbines or road and power easements — or both — to facilitate construction on the private land, said Clive Rooney, area manager of DNRC’s northeastern land office.
The DNRC’s preferred option is to allow Horizon to lease the land from the state and erect turbines on adjacent state lands. A second option allows only easements on public property.
The project is undergoing a state environmental study because 3,080 acres of the wind farm would fall on school trust land owned by the state, with the remaining 15,557 acres privately owned by the Martinsdale Hutterite Colony.
Wind farms sited entirely on private land can escape environmental review under the state’s Major Facilities Siting Act.
Up to seven turbines would be constructed on state land in the first phase of construction for the Martinsdale Wind Farm. That phase would bring in $36,750 to $42,913 in annual lease revenue to the state, Rooney said.
By KARL PUCKETT, Great Falls Tribune – http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20090220/NEWS01/902200324