Click on the town names for examples of renewable energy projects.

Montana Green Power

Your Guide to Renewable Energy in Montana


May 10, 2002

NorthWestern Corporation Acquires
MPC Transmission, Distribution Business

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Feb. 15, 2002 – NorthWestern Corporation (NYSE:NOR) has announced the completion of its acquisition of The Montana Power Company’s energy transmission and distribution business. "With the combination of the NorthWestern and Montana Power energy operations, NorthWestern becomes one of the region’s premier electric and natural gas providers," said Merle D. Lewis, chairman and chief executive officer of NorthWestern. "Also, this combination creates a greater regional scale for NorthWestern that will allow us to realize the full value of our existing energy assets and provides a strong platform for future growth."

The transaction is valued at $1.09 billion, including $602 million in cash and the assumption of approximately $488 million in debt, and will enhance NorthWestern’s annual regulated energy revenues by more than $600 million, substantially increase cash flow and will be immediately accretive to the company’s earnings.

According to Richard R. Hylland, NorthWestern president and chief operating officer, the completed transaction provides NorthWestern with approximately 22,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines and 269 electric substations serving customers in 36 of Montana’s 56 counties, along with 5,300 miles of underground natural gas transmission and distribution lines serving customers in 28 of Montana’s 56 counties. "Even more important than these energy business assets, NorthWestern is adding more than 1,000 new team members committed to service excellence for our more than 450,000 new Montana energy customers," Hylland said.

Michael J. Hanson, president and chief executive officer of NorthWestern’s energy businesses, pointed out that NorthWestern is bringing to Montana nearly 80 years of experience in effective

management of energy distribution operations and an impressive record of providing award-winning reliability, excellent service, stable prices and consistent financial performance.

"Over the past 16 months, we have worked closely with consumer groups, regulators, public officials, environmental groups and Montana Power team members across the state on a variety of challenging energy issues. NorthWestern worked hard to provide innovative solutions to assure that our customers receive reliable, competitively priced energy for years to come," said Hanson. "This experience has reinforced our belief that this transaction will yield important benefits to all our stakeholders. We look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with all stakeholders to provide our customers and the communities we serve with progressive energy solutions and customer care excellence that exceed their expectations."

NorthWestern Corporation, a FORTUNE 500 company, serves more than two million customers across America in the energy and communications sectors. NorthWestern’s partner entities include NorthWestern Services Group, a provider of electric, natural gas and communications services to Upper Plains and Northwest customers; Expanets, the largest mid-market provider of networked communications solutions and services in the United States; Blue Dot, a leading provider of air conditioning, heating, plumbing and related services; and CornerStone Propane Partners L.P. (NYSE:CNO), one of the nation’s largest retail propane distribution entities. Further information about NorthWestern is available on the Internet at

High Resolution Montana Wind Map Posted 
The much anticipated high-resolution map of Montana's wind resources showing tremendous potential is now posted at In addition, updated versions of the Washington map images are posted showing all tribal lands, and we are now taking orders for color prints and posters.

According to Heather Rhoads-Weaver of Northwest SEED (Sustainable Energy for Economic Development), web GIS developers are busy working on the interactive zoom-in tools and other navigational features that will be beta tested next week and released publicly at the Harvesting Clean Energy conference Feb. 26 in Pasco, WA. Other upcoming release dates are:

Oregon and northern California - coming mid 2/02
Wyoming - coming early 3/02
Formal site launch - mid 3/02
Stats pages - coming late 3/02
Simple payback calculator - coming summer '02

A more detailed project schedule along with updated information on becoming a sponsor can be found at

Project Background
Under contract with the NW Cooperative Development Center, TrueWind Solutions and NW Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (SEED) are working produce new wind maps and an interactive website that will allow landowners to "zoom in" and view wind resource details down to a 40-acre grid scale. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and five independent meteorologists are verifying the model's wind speed predictions using data collected at dozens of sties throughout the region. Wind maps for Washington, Montana, Oregon and northern California will be completed over the next month, and the National Center for Appropriate Technology will be assisting with the formal website launch. The wind map for Wyoming plus additional "Stats Pages" with time series graphs and data tables, along with a simple payback calculator, will be available by early March.

NWSEED is working with the Land & Water Fund of the Rockies to develop a larger Renewable Energy Atlas of the West covering wind, solar, biomass and geothermal resources (

For more information, contact:
Heather Rhoads-Weaver
Northwest SEED
(Sustainable Energy for Economic Development)
2724 S. Elmwood Place
Seattle, WA 98144
206-328-2441 / eFax: 925-889-3911

[email protected]

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Montana Power Company Publishes 
Renewable Energy Project Funding Guide

Want to learn how to help pay for a renewable energy system? The Montana Power Company and Sage Mountain Center of Whitehall have published "Bright Ideas in Renewable Energy – A Guide to Funding Your Renewable Energy Project."

The guide includes a primer on renewable energy, an explanation of universal system benefits funds, an example of a renewable energy proposal, answers to frequently asked questions, a glossary of terms, a list of Montana renewable energy dealers and installers, a sheet describing Montana Power Company net-metering requirements, the interconnection agreement the utility requires, and a request for proposal form.

Bright Ideas in Renewable Energy (PDF 2.7MB)

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PSC OKs NorthWestern's Acquisition 
of Montana Power's Utility Business

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Jan. 29, 2002 – The Montana Public Service Commission today unanimously approved NorthWestern Corporation's pending acquisition of The Montana Power Company's energy transmission and distribution business.

"We are gratified by the Montana Public Service Commission's decision to unanimously approve the transaction," said Michael J. Hanson, president and chief executive officer of NorthWestern Services Group, NorthWestern's energy services business. "Completion of this acquisition will combine two successful energy businesses and create one of the northern tier's premier electricity and natural gas providers."

The formal order from the commission is expected on Jan. 31, 2002. With this order, NorthWestern will have received all necessary regulatory approvals, other than anti-trust clearance. NorthWestern initially filed notification and, on Jan. 17, 2001, received early termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act). Because this initial notification expired one year following the grant of early termination, NorthWestern refiled an application under the HSR Act on Jan. 10, 2002, and again requested early termination of the waiting period. The new waiting period will expire on Feb. 11, 2002, unless the company's request for early termination is granted again or a request for additional information is received.

NorthWestern has also obtained all necessary financing to complete the acquisition. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing requirements, is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

NorthWestern entered into an agreement in October 2000 to purchase Montana Power's utility business for $602 million in cash and the assumption of $488 million of existing debt, subject to certain closing conditions and provisions included in the agreement. The transaction will broaden NorthWestern's regional energy service area from eastern South Dakota and central Nebraska with an additional 446,000 electricity and natural gas customers in Montana.

NorthWestern Corporation, a FORTUNE 500 company, provides  services to more than 2 million customers across America in the energy and communications sectors. NorthWestern’s partner entities include NorthWestern Services Group, a provider of electric, natural gas and communications services to Upper Plains customers; Expanets, one of the largest mid-market providers of networked communications solutions and services in the United States; Blue Dot, a leading provider of air conditioning, heating, plumbing and related services; and CornerStone Propane Partners L.P., one of the nation’s largest retail propane distribution entities.

Investors: Elizabeth A. Evans
[email protected]

Media:Roger Schrum
[email protected]

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American Wind Energy Association
Posts Small Wind System Slide Shows

Download the American Wind Energy Association’s Small Wind Systems Slide Shows:

Part 1 - Small Wind 101
Part 2 - Small Wind

102 (Economics)
103 (Siting Issues)
104 Grid Interconnection

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Sage Mountain Center Releases
2001 USBC Progress Report

Sage Mountain Center of Whitehall has submitted its progress report on projects it accomplished in 2001 under Montana Power Company's Universal System Benefits fund.

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Montana DEQ Supporting Olympic 
Cleaner and Greener Program

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is supporting the Olympic Cleaner and Greener Program which is working to offset all the environmental emissions caused by energy use associated with Olympic Winter Games of 2001 in Salt Lake City.

You can help by encouraging city government, university and school districts to participate in this program.

The Olympic Torch Relay is going through Montana and participating in Olympic Cleaner and Greener Program is a great way for those "torch communities" to participate in the Olympic Winter games.

The Olympic Cleaner and Greener Program asks participants to donate some of the emission reductions delivered by their energy efficiency projects and renewable energy projects to help offset the emission of these Olympic Games. There is no cost to participate in this program. The program helps organizations quantify and get recognized for the environmental emission reduction benefits of their energy efficiency projects.

The program also helps organizations learn about the potential future benefits they may receive for emission reduction trading programs when these develop.

Call DEQ Energy Program Manager Georgia Brensdal at 406-444-6750 or Michael Arny at Leonardo Academy who is managing the Olympic Cleaner and Greener Program at  877-977-9277 (Toll Free).

Brochure and sign up form (110KB PDF)
Draft letter donating emissions reductions

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Hog Farm Methane Plant Proposed in Conrad
Fed Gazette, a publication of the Federal Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, reports in its July 2001 issue about a proposed hog farm and methane plant in Conrad, Montana. In an article titled, "Cleaning up: Possible solutions for lessening the impact of animal waste—scientific, technological and economic—are discussed," FedGazette reports: "An even larger deal is being discussed in north central Montana, where local developers are planning a $115 million hog-processing plant near Conrad. In a seemingly Rube Goldberg complex of technologies, the facility would include two sites. 

"The first would slaughter pigs, digest their waste into methane and fertilizer, grow crops and generate electricity. The second would vaporize landfill, thereby creating nitrogen for cooling the slaughtered pigs and hydrogen for powering fuel cells. The cells would create electricity, fed onto Montana's thirsty power grid along with electricity generated from ethanol distilled on-site from local corn. 

"Got that? Think it’ll work? Some area residents are skeptical, but the promise of 500 jobs has local and state officials interested. The Montana Growth through Agriculture Council issued a $50,000 grant to develop a business plan."

DEQ Puts Wind Energy Atlas On Line
The Montana Wind Energy Atlas is a comprehensive analysis of wind energy data available as of 1987. Data collected by a variety of public and private organizations at 158 wind monitoring sites around Montana were reviewed. Data from 56 sites are analyzed in the Atlas. Information on the sites and the data collection programs is included. While more data have been gathered since the Atlas was published, it remains the only publicly available collection of data from numerous sites. These historical data should be useful for preliminary identification of potential sites. The Atlas is available on line at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality Energize Montana website.

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Jacobs Wind Electric Company 
Got Its Start in Montana

In the 1920’s, Joseph and Marcellus Jacobs developed a practical wind energy system to provide electricity to their remote Montana ranch. Recognizing the need for this energy source, the Jacobs Wind Electric Company was founded in the mid-1920’s. After moving to Minneapolis in the early 1930’s, the company established a modern manufacturing facility to produce wind electric plants, which provided power to isolated farms and ranches. During the next 30 years, thousands of these systems were manufactured and sold throughout the world. Read more about the Jacobs Wind Electric Company at the Wind Turbine Industries Corp. website.

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Wind Workshop Presentations On Line
Presentation from the Wind Powering Montana Workshop October 3 in Big Sky have been translated from PowerPoint into viewable web pages at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality Energize Montana website. 

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Q&A Brochure Helps Landowners Answer
Key Questions about Wind Development

The University of North Dakota at Grand Forks has published a question and answer brochure that can help Montanans faced with questions about developing wind resources on their land. The brochure, titled What Landowners Need to Know About Attracting Wind Energy Developers to Their Land in North Dakota, asks and answers key questions such as:

  • How do I attract wind energy developers to my land in North Dakota?
  • What should I know before I speak to a wind energy developer?
  • What are the steps leading to wind development?
  • How do I get wind turbines on my land?
  • How do wind turbines work?
  • How can wind be a resource to me, the landowner?
  • Would my land be a good wind site?
  • What type of deal can I expect from a wind energy developer?
  • What type of wind turbine(s) would be on my land?
  • How many turbines can be put on a section of land?
  • What happens to the electricity produced from the wind turbines?
  • How does the electricity get to where it is needed?
  • What happens when the wind doesn’t blow?

The brochure includes partial lists of Nonprofit Wind Energy Contacts, Web Sites with Landowner Information and Wind Energy Developers. Download the four-page (323KB) brochure.

Consumer's Guide Answers Questions
bout Small Wind Electric Systems

Can you use wind energy to power your home? Spiraling utility bills, the need for uninterrupted service, and concerns over environmental impacts are generating increasing interest in small wind energy systems. Small wind electric systems can make a significant contribution to the nation's energy needs. Although wind turbines large enough to provide a significant portion of the electricity needed by the average U.S. home generally require one acre of property or more, approximately 21 million U.S. homes are built on one-acre and larger sites, and 24 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. But will a small wind electric system work for you?

  • Is there enough wind where you live?
  • Do they allow tall towers in your neighborhood or rural area?
  • Do you have enough space?
  • How much electricity do you need or want to produce?
  • Do you want to connect to the utility grid or be grid independent?
  • Can you afford a wind energy system?
  • What does it take to install and maintain a system?

These are just a few of the questions you need to answer before you can determine if a wind energy system will work for you. Download Small Wind Electric Systems – A U. S. Consumer’s Guide (774KB). The guide provides basic information you need to answer those questions and to address the many factors you need to consider to successfully install a small wind energy system and get maximum production.

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Consumer Energy Information
Just what do we mean by "energy efficiency" and "renewable energy"? Energy-efficient products take less energy to operate and save energy — and money — by reducing heating, cooling and lighting requirements in buildings. Renewable energy comes from resources that are easily replenished such as the sun, wind, and water. Get energy information for your home, business or workplace, school or transportation.

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Want to Know about Wind Energy? 
Take an Internet Tour 

Want to know where wind energy comes from? Want to learn about the Coriolis Force, global winds, geostrophic wind, wind speed measurement, the wind rose, wind shear, and wind shade? Need to find a wind shade calculator, information about wind turbine components, rotor blades, and wind energy economics? Answers to all your questions about wind energy can be found at the Danish Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association’s Guided Tour on Wind Energy. The website features more than 100 animated pages and calculators on wind resources, wind turbine technology, economics, and environmental aspects of wind energy. Each of the nine tours is a self-contained unit, so you may take the tours in any order. 

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Renewable Energy Request
for Proposals Available Online

To assure continued funding for public purposes programs, the Legislature approved a Universal System Benefits Charge, or USBC. Montana's USBC is based on a percentage of electric utility revenues. For the typical homeowner, the benefits charge is about $1 per month. Montana's USBC expenditures began in 1999. Under the universal system benefits programs, all utility customers pay a charge (assessed at the meter) to ensure continued funding of energy conservation, renewables and low-income energy assistance programs.

Although all electric generation technologies have some environmental impact, some, which do not use fossil fuels, are considered widely to be more environmentally friendly than others. One goal of Universal System Benefits goal is to encourage the development of renewable energy resources projects that use environmentally friendly – or "green" – technology to generate electricity. USB funding provides incentives for solar, wind, or geothermal projects.

Last year, Montana Power Company received more than 20 renewable energy applications through Requests for Proposals (RFPs), of which 15 received funding. These projects ranged from researching wind energy opportunities in Montana, to installing solar heating equipment at customers' homes or businesses. Almost all of the funded projects also included public education or demonstration sites to create awareness about the opportunities and benefits of renewable energy installations.

Learn more about USB projects and download the Renewable Energy Request for Proposals (RFP) in both PDF and Word format.

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Montana Green Power

National Center for Appropriate Technology
(406) 494-4572
Toll free 1-800-275-6228 (ASK-NCAT)
Fax (406) 494-2905

E-mail: [email protected]

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