Montana agrees to lease land for new wind power project near Big Timber

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) today completed its Record of Decision granting approval for the Coyote Wind Power Project on state-owned school trust land approximately three miles northeast of Springdale, Mont., in Sweet Grass County.

The Coyote Wind Project proposes up to eight wind turbines with a generating capacity of 14.4 megawatts on school trust land, and 36 wind turbines generating 64.8 megawatts on adjacent private land.

On August 10, 2009, DNRC issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and collected public comments until Sept. 11, 2009. After receiving 177 written and oral comments from 21 citizens, DNRC concluded the issues raised did not require additional scientific analysis and moved to adopt the Draft EIS, with warranted changes and amendments, as the Final EIS on Nov. 13, 2009, as permitted by Montana statute.

The proposed wind farm, being built by Enerfin Energy Co., is the third major wind power project in Montana to be approved on state land.

Energy company to assess wind potential on state land in Glasgow area

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation on Jan. 13 issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the development of a 100-megawatt wind energy project on state School Trust lands located 20 miles north of Glasgow.

DNRC Director Mary Sexton said the agency received a request from Florida-based Sansur Renewable Energy, Inc., to have placed for competitive bid the rights to explore the feasibility of wind energy production on 7,256 acres of state School Trust lands, which are managed for the financial benefit of trust beneficiaries, predominantly Montana’s K-12 public schools.

"The American Wind Energy Association ranks Montana in the top five for states with wind energy potential, and our School Trust lands continue to play a key role in realizing that potential," said Sexton. "Since 2006 we’ve seen development begin on three new wind energy projects involving state land. I’m excited we may have the opportunity to develop another."

Securing exploration rights is the first step in the process of developing a wind farm, allowing the energy company to install measuring equipment to collect wind data and assess the project’s feasibility. A wind farm operation plan is then subject to review under the Montana Environmental Policy Act, which provides opportunity for public comment and participation.

To date, 13 wind turbines have been constructed on School Trust lands in Montana, contributing $60,000 annually to the Common Schools trust. The Montana State Land Board on Jan. 17 will consider approval of a lease for the Coyote Wind Project near Springdale, Mont., in Sweet Grass County. The Coyote project includes 36 wind turbines generating 64.8 megawatts on private land and eight turbines generating 14.4 megawatts on School Trust land.