Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Thursday signed a bill allowing NorthWestern Energy or other utilities to own a so-called “community renewable energy project.”
House Bill 343, sponsored by Rep. Art Noonan, D-Butte, essentially allows NorthWestern Energy to pursue its own green-energy project to meet state quotas for green-energy sales.
The law says NorthWestern must purchase a minimum amount of green power from community projects by 2012.
Prior law also said community projects must be independently and locally owned, and be no larger than 5 megawatts. It intended to encourage development of small, independent projects across the state, such as small wind farms.
With HB343 becoming law, NorthWestern or other utilities can own a community project, rather than having to buy power from an independent source. The 2009 Legislature also redefined community projects as anything up to 25 megawatts in size.
For more on NorthWestern Energy’s renewable energy wrangling check out these previous posts: