Northwest Renewable News

Your Daily Source for Renewable Energy News in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana & Northern California

4 major transmission lines planned to export wind energy from Montana January 31, 2010

At least four major power lines to export electricity from Montana are on the drawing board. Here is the status of the projects:

Mountain States Transmission Intertie: NorthWestern Energy, Montana’s largest electric-and-gas utility, is proposing this 430-mile, $1 billion line run from Townsend to southern Idaho.

The 500-kilovolt line would transport power generated in Montana to Southwestern markets. A draft environmental impact statement on the project is expected this year, and NorthWestern plans to accept bids this spring for space on the line. Construction is slated for some time in 2014 or 2015.

Collector System: NorthWestern also is proposing this network of lines to gather power from wind farms in Montana and route it to the Townsend hub, for transmission elsewhere.

Bids for space on the lines will be accepted at the same time as MSTI. Construction of all or portions of the line could begin in 2014 or sooner.

Chinook Transmission Project: TransCanada of Calgary, Alberta, is proposing this $3 billion, 1,100-mile line from Harlowton to southern Nevada. It says the line will carry mostly new wind power, to the Southwest.

In December, the company accepted bids from energy developers and suppliers to buy space on the line. TransCanada plans to announce winning bids by spring.

If all goes well, TransCanada will file for permits and conduct an environmental review between now and 2012 and start construction in 2012, a company spokesman said.

Colstrip transmission line upgrade: NorthWestern, utilities from Oregon and Washington, and the Bonneville Power Administration are considering on this project, which would increase the capacity of lines between Colstrip and the Pacific Northwest by 30 percent. The partners say the line is supposed to move “renewable” power, likely wind, from Montana into Washington and Oregon.

Discussions are under way on how the ownership and cost would be divided. The earliest the upgrade would occur is 2012.

MIKE DENNISON, Missoulian –


Sutherland will lead Central Wash. renewable energy partnership

Kittitas County officials have announced that former Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland is taking the helm of a new public-private partnership focused on renewable energy jobs and research.

The partnership is called the Central Washington Resource Energy Collaborative, which was formally recognized by the state Commerce Department in October.

It is the first Innovative Partnership Zone in the state since Gov. Chris Gregoire announced the initial designation of 11 such zones in 2007. Such zones are designed to build on the success of so-called “research parks” around the world such as the The Triangle in North Carolina and Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

In a news release Friday, Kittitas County Commissioner Paul Jewell said Sutherland has agreed to accept the position as interim executive director of the new partnership and is expected to refine the agency’s organizational structure and direction over the next 12 to 18 months.

“We are extremely excited to have someone with Doug’s qualifications and experience to guide this project during its critical startup stage,” Jewell said.

Sutherland’s credentials include stints as the Pierce County executive, city manager of the city of SeaTac, and mayor and city council member of Tacoma. As a Republican, he served two terms as public-lands commissioner before he was defeated by Democrat Peter Goldmark in 2008.

In taking the job, Sutherland noted that he is a graduate of Central Washington University and thus familiar with the area.

“This is a great opportunity to assist in building a lasting organization,” he said. “The fact that I have ties to the area was a bonus that made it even more attractive.”

CWU is one of several organizations that are taking part in the partnership, along with Kittitas County and the nonprofit Economic Development Group of Kittitas County.

Also on board is Puget Sound Energy, which owns the Wild Horse wind farm east of Ellensburg, and enXco Development Corp., the French-backed company that is building the 95-turbine Desert Claim wind farm eight miles northwest of Ellensburg.

Kittitas County officials touted the partnership as the first in the state to focus exclusively on resource-based technologies.

According to the county’s news release, the partnership’s goal is to create a “hub” for renewable energy research and to strengthen the county’s job base by nurturing technology based companies.

Sutherland is expected to start Monday and will work out of the Economic Development Group’s offices in Ellensburg.

CHRIS BRISTOL, Yakima Herald-Republic


More on community-Owned wind farm being developed in Mont. January 30, 2010

Filed under: Montana,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 6:57 pm
Tags: ,

Montana is experiencing a very important development in the renewable energy field, according to Erin Edholm, director of communication for National Wind, LLC, as the first utility-scale, community-owned wind development project is under way.

The Judith Highlands Energy project has the potential to be the largest development of its kind in the state and is expected to produce up to 500 megawatts in Fergus, Wheatland, Judith Basin, and Golden Valley counties. Edholm said the project incorporates over 50,000 acres of land through the support of nearly 30 local landowners.

The Judith Highlands Energy project will include anywhere from 250 to over 300 turbines when complete, depending on the turbine model used.

National Wind only sets up community-owned projects, according to Edholm, adding that the industry standard is to provide landowners an annual turbine lease payment, but National Wind’s development model offers landowners more than this.
The company makes those lease payments but they also allow the local members to share in the project’s revenues once the wind energy is converted to power. In addition, the state tax revenue generated by the local wind farm can be used to build local infrastructure and develop the local economy, she said.

“Our National Wind model seeks to allow local community participation, which provides potential for sharing in both turbine leases and revenues from a successful project,” said Patrick Pelstring, co-chair of National Wind, LLC.

Montana Wind Re-sources of Billings will jointly manage the wind farm with National Wind. Rhyno Stinchfield, Mon-tana Wind Resources chief executive officer, has 30 years of experience in the renewable resources field. Steve Tyrell, chief operating officer with Montana Wind Resources, has 12 years of experience in range management services throughout the Northern Rockies.

“Not only will this project help Western States reach their Renewable Portfolio Stan-dards, it also has the likelihood of providing substantial economic benefits to Montana,” says Stinchfield. “Steve and I have enjoyed working with Mon-tana ranchers and landowners over the past several years. However, nothing we’ve seen yet has possessed the economic potential of Judith Highlands. We need more developments like this across the state because community-owned wind projects can add significantly to the local economy.”

Other than access to the land to house the wind turbine, there is no financial investment necessary for the landowners, according to Edholdm.

She said the cost of construction, staffing and maintenance is paid for through financing, and the wind farm’s production taxes are paid for by the project company, Judith Highlands Energy, LLC.

The only outlay to the local landowners is land access. By allowing the company access to their land, landowners become part of the project and the profits.

Edholm said all landowners who have turbines are fairly compensated for crop loss in addition to the standard annual turbine lease payment. Any access roads that are developed on the land are also justly compensated.

“But many landowners also find out the roads are a benefit to them as well,” she explained.

Once the turbines are in place, landowners may grow crops or graze livestock right up to the base of the turbines just as before.

“We don’t want to disrupt their normal operations,” she said.

A typical turbine in this project will stand 400 feet tall and take up about half an acre of space. The project is expected to take five to eight years to complete.

Judith Highlands Energy’s development team has executed two leases for on-site meteorological equipment (met tower) installation that were installed in December. One year of on-site wind analysis is needed to effectively determine the best spots for wind turbine placement.

The company is also negotiating with transmission developers to carry the electricity to markets in the West. Edholm said that Montana has a very high ability to produce more energy than it needs. Therefore most of the power generated by the project will sent out of state.

“Montana’s current climate for transmission interconnection is challenging. However, we are working to make sure we have a feasible transmission strategy in place,” Edholm said. “Many active private transmission line building initiatives are in the works across the state that could serve the Judith Highlands project. Transmis-sion lines need to be installed before we start erecting the turbines.”

Once the turbines are up the company will maintain a crew in the area to service and maintain those turbines. Depending upon which model is chosen each General Electric turbine is capable of generating either 1.5 or 2.5 megawatts of power. When complete, this project will generate 500 megawatts.

The Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America Program has reported that 1,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity in Montana could add $1.2 billion in cumulative economic benefits, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2.9 million tons, and save over 1,200 million gallons of water annually.

Montana is listed as one of the top five states with the country’s greatest wind potential according to the American Wind Energy Association.

National Wind is the nation’s largest developors of utility-scale, community-owned wind projects. They have been working with communities since 2003 and currently have 13 wind energy projects located across the U.S.

“We have a pipeline of over 4,000 megawatts of projects,” said Edholm, adding they are excited to see Montanans grow their ability to produce, sell and profit from wind energy.

To learn more about Montana’s first wind farm visit,, or

Landowners interested in participation opportunities can contact Stinchfield, 406-651-8898; or Tyrrel, 406-855-7600, of Montana Wind Resources.

TERRI ADAMS, The Prairie Star


Idaho Power Files Plan To Meet Future Power Demand

Idaho Power Co. has filed a plan with the state’s energy regulator detailing how it will meet growing customer demand over the next 20 years.

The state’s biggest utility says it intends to add 3,000 megawatts of power generated by a mix of natural gas, wind and geothermal to serve an estimated 680,000 customers by 2029. The company now serves about 486,000 customers.

The majority of the new energy is expected to come from the Langley Gulch natural gas plant now under construction near New Plymouth. Wind generation will provide 150 megawatts of energy, and geothermal sources another 40 megawatts.

The filing with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission also predicts increases in customer costs as the utility relies less on energy produced at coal-fired plants. About 78 percent of its electricity in 2008 came from hydroelectric and coal resources.
Idaho Power said it also hopes to reduce summer power demand by encouraging customers to use energy efficient appliances.

Associated Press


$100M biomass plant proposed in Longview

Filed under: Biomass,Oregon,Renewable Energy Projects,Wood Products — nwrenewablenews @ 6:45 pm

A Longview, Wash.-based paper company plans to build a $100 million plant that would be the largest waste wood-fueled power plant in the Pacific Northwest.

Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging Inc., a manufacturer of craft paper, corrugated boxes and container board, filed paperwork last week with Washington’s Department of Ecology to seek a permit for the plant, said Sarah Taydas, a company spokeswoman.

The combined heat and power plant would replace an existing 25-megawatt wood-fueled biomass plant that now generates 30 percent of the electricity for the company’s Longview pulp and paper mill.

Taydas said the company has yet to determine whether the electricity generated by the new plant, which could be in operation by the third quarter of 2011 if approved, would be used to power its operations or whether it will sell the power into an energy market thirsty for renewable fuel sources.

Erik Seimers, Portland Business Journal –


2010 Renewable Energy Summit in Ontario, Ore.

Filed under: Oregon,Renewable/Green Energy — nwrenewablenews @ 6:42 pm

It all started with a grant.

Treasure Valley Community College Dean of Instruction Susan Tinker applied for a grant that became the seed for a renewable energy summit that college and industry officials hope will help jump-start an industry and rebuild the economy in the valley.

The 2010 Renewable Energy Summit, a joint effort of Sunenergy World and TVCC, will be held Feb. 18 and Feb. 19 at Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario. It will focus on wind, solar and biofuels as sources of energy to power existing industry and create opportunities for new industry, create jobs and support a new program at TVCC to train students to fill those jobs.

Addressing these issues will be a variety of experts in the field of alternative and sustainable energy, including those who are already involved in production of biofuels and use of alternative energies representing the public sector as well as private industry.

“I hope to heighten awareness of renewable energy,” Roger Findley, associate dean of workforce development, said.

Findley said his goal is that people will go to the summit and become interested in investing in alternative energy systems to investigate further and go through with an installment. That would lead to companies needing people to work in the field, doing such things as installations and maintenance.

“We’re developing a renewable energy tech program (training students to work in the industry),” Findley said.

There would be an entry-level tech program, a one-year certificate and a two-year degree program.

“We’re going to be training these folks,” Findley said. “There will be plenty of jobs to sustain the economy.”

Focus topics during the summit will be economic incentives that have improved the viability of renewable energy, new business opportunities and potential workforce development challenges, impacts of new technologies in the extensive deployment of solar energy and biomass systems and new curriculum and career paths to be available at TVCC.

Presenters for the event will include Don Hollis, USDA Energy Grants; Stephanie Page, Ag Energy Opportunity in Oregon; Mark Stokes, Idaho Power; Sunenergy World, solar designs and installations; Stoel Rives, LLP, legal implications of renewable energy; Jim Kleinburd, carbon credits; Kurt Christensen, renewable ag energy; Findley, educational opportunities; and Steve Norberg, soybean as biofuel.

Sunenergy World, a solar energy company, is installing three solar heating systems in the new National Guard Readiness Center in Ontario as research for determining what works best for future installation in other Guard facilities, Findley said.

“This is a window of opportunity,” he said, referring to the current political climate. “Let’s jump through while it’s here.

“We want to stimulate the economy with a new basic industry. We’ve lost all our basic industries.”

Admission is $65 for individual tickets, $50 per person if purchased as part of group at the door and $15 for students, and includes lunch and access to all speakers and exhibitors.

Larry Meyer, Argus Observer –


Oregon fourth among states for new wind capacity

Filed under: Oregon,Renewable Energy Projects,Utility Companies,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 6:37 pm
Tags: ,

Oregon added more wind turbines than all but three other states last year, according to a recent industry report.

The American Wind Energy Association reported in its Year End 2009 Market Report (PDF) that wind developers installed 691 megawatts worth of wind towers last year in the state. Texas, the faraway leader, added 2,292 megawatts. One megawatt of wind capacity is enough to supply from 225 to 300 homes, according to the association.

The report says that, despite tightening of the credit market, federal stimulus dollars continued to encourage wind development.

“The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all installation records in 2009, chalking up the Recovery Act as a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon, and protecting consumers,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “But U.S. wind turbine manufacturing – the canary in the mine — is down compared to last year’s levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow.”

Oregon now ranks sixth among state for total installed wind capacity, with 1,758 megawatts.

Three more wind farms – Biglow Canyon Phase III, Combine Hills II and Star Point – are currently under construction in the state that will add another roughly 336 megawatts to Oregon’s total.

Matthew Preusch, The Oregonian