A Florida wind developer said Tuesday that he wants to build a 100-megawatt wind farm on state land in northeast Montana.
Montana has some of the best winds in the country for power generation, but development has lagged other states.
The latest proposal, from Tampa-Fla.-based Sansur Renewable Energy, is among several recently announced projects that combined could make the state among the wind industry’s top players.
Montana officials said they will solicit bids beginning Wednesday to lease about 7,300 acres of state land in Valley County at the request of Sansur.
The company’s chief executive, Suren Ajjarapu, said wind turbines could go up within two to three years if his company emerges as the successful bidder.
Finding power line capacity to move wind-generated energy to consumers has been a constant challenge for wind developers in Montana. Ajjarapu said 50 megawatts of capacity are available on a nearby transmission line and the company is looking for more.
The company wants to build a second wind power project near Chinook and is in the process of buying an existing wind farm at an undisclosed Montana location, Ajjarapu said.
Sansur, formed in 2007, is also negotiating to buy a 46.5 megawatt wind project in India, he said.
The Valley County project has the potential to become the fourth wind farm to go up on state-owned land in Montana. One, near Judith Gap, already is operational and two more are in the works near Martinsdale and Springdale.
The Sansur site is in the general vicinity of a 500-megawatt wind power proposal that failed in 2007 after environmentalists complained that it was too close to a wilderness area.
Much of that project was slated for federal land under control of the Bureau of Land Management.
The state-owned parcels eyed by Sansur are far enough away from the wilderness area that similar opposition is not expected, said Mary Sexton with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.