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Cut Bank Pioneer Press
September 19, 2012

NaturEner celebrates success of new Rim Rock Wind Farm: ‘It’s been a wild ride.’

NaturEner USA has given Toole and Glacier Counties, and the State of Montana, millions of reasons to celebrate. And when the tax bills go out again next month, there will be millions more coming into county and state coffers thanks to NaturEner’s nearly $1 billion investment in the wind energy business in north central Montana.

“And we’re not done yet,” promised Greg Copeland, Director of Development for NaturEner USA.


NaturEner hosted a celebration on Friday, Sept. 14, to kick-off the “thousands of hours of effort by hundreds of people” involved in making NaturEner’s Rim Rock Wind Farm a reality. The celebration, which was held on site at the Rim Rock Wind Farm, located north of Cut Bank and west of Shelby, featured dignitaries and guests from as far away as Spain, New York, California, as well as local and county government officials, representatives from Montana’s congressional delegation, landowners, business owners, and, of course, Gov. Brian Schweitzer.


Copeland said the “opening ceremony” of the Rim Rock Wind Farm was an opportunity to celebrate the effort and hard work, as well as the vision, perseverance and leadership of the many people who worked to make NaturEner’s third wind energy project in north central Montana a reality.


More than $400 million was invested in this project, which is expected to be fully energized and producing wind energy by November.


Glacier and Toole Counties will receive new tax revenue of $2.5 million thanks to the Rim Rock Wind Farm. Landowners involved with the project will be paid $1.5 million in annual royalty payments.


Copeland congratulated local and county leaders for extending tax incentives to NaturEner. The company, in turn, had a “clearly substantial” impact to service industries in both Toole and Glacier Counties, with numerous local businesses, restaurants, hotels, motels and landlords enjoying the influx of contractors and their employees.


Doug Embody, mayor of Cut Bank, said NaturEner and its investments and contributions have meant a lot to the Cut Bank community. The lack of law enforcement problems with employees shows they “do a tremendous job of hiring good people. We have been privileged to have NaturEner and its people in our town,” he continued. “We hold many community fund raisers and benefits and NaturEner is always represented and are always very willing to contribute to the tremendous success of these events.”


According to Shelby mayor Larry Bonderud, NaturEner paid $2.4 million in taxes in Toole County last year. “That’s a sizeable impact…and we truly appreciate them.” Bonderud said NaturEner’s Glacier 1, Glacier 2 and the Rim Rock wind farms are “great examples of what can happen when we all work together.” He challenged Montana’s congressional delegation to work hard for the extension of the wind energy tax credits.


“Montanans must continue pulling in the same direction and as long as we do, there’s nothing we can’t do,” concluded Bonderud.


Copeland told the crowd, which numbered a couple hundred people, “There is still plenty of opportunity in this state and in this area, when it comes to further expansion.” He reminded those in attendance NaturEner had originally planned for the Rim Rock Wind Farm to have 206 turbines that would generate and transmit 309 megawatts of wind energy. A downturn in the economy forced NaturEner to scale back the project to only 189 turbines. “There’s another 120 megawatts of available capacity ready to be done.” He urged those in the audience to contact members of Congress urging them to extend the wind energy tax credits, which expire this year.

 

To continue reading this article, go to the Cut Bank Pioneer Press website: http://www.cutbankpioneerpress.com/articles/2012/09/19/cut_bank_pioneer_press/news/doc5058eaec92b1a502583015.txt

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