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The Montana Standard
by: Mark Sweeney
November 20, 2012

Wind farm good for Anaconda

Thanks in large part to Anaconda’s mining and smelting legacy that goes back nearly 100 years, the Anaconda area benefits from unusually robust electrical infrastructure.


In 2007, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County decided to target electrical generation as a key part of the county’s economic development strategy. We landed our first big electrical development project when NorthWestern Energy located the David Gates Generating Station just outside of Anaconda.


The purpose of the Dave Gates generating station is to help integrate Montana’s high value wind energy into the state’s electrical system. Working together, Dave Gates and Montana’s wind farms are supplying NorthWestern ratepayers with cost competitive electricity. The generating station has provided the Anaconda community with jobs, and reduced property taxes on local residents by 12 to 20 percent across the county.


Given the purpose of the Dave Gates plant to integrate Montana’s wind energy, it seems fitting that the next achievement for Deer Lodge County’s focus on electrical generation could be a community-owned wind farm on the ridge behind C Hill.


The viability and details of such a wind farm are still under consideration, but should it go forward the project would likely be a 19 megawatt (eight wind turbines) wind farm owned by NorthWestern Energy, or a majority of Montana interests.


That kind of community ownership will help keep a greater percentage of the money invested in the wind farm, around $40 million, in our local area.


The project would also contribute significantly to our local tax base, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in new property tax revenue for the county that could help expand services or further reduce tax rates on county residents.


The project would generate 20 to 40 construction jobs that our tradesmen depend on, and even a few well-paid permanent positions.


Once operating, the wind farm would roughly supply the equivalent amount of energy as the annual energy needs of 6,000 homes, all of it backed up by our own Dave Gates generating station.

 

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