Welcome to the Montana Green Power E-newsletter! This is a monthly feature of the Montana Green Power website: www.montanagreenpower.com
.Visit the website for details about all the stories below, a link to "Solar Access" national and international news about renewable energy, plus lots of other green power news. The site is funded with Universal System Benefits charges paid by all NorthWestern Energy customers.

Welcome to the Montana Green Power E-newsletter! This is a monthly feature of the Montana Green Power website:


isit the website for details about all the stories below, a link to "Solar Access" national and international news about renewable energy, plus lots of other green power news. The site is funded with Universal System Benefits charges paid by all NorthWestern Energy customers.


October 2002

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew. - Marshall McLuhan


Oil-crop Growers Form Biofuels Co-op
Atlas Shows Montana's Renewable Energy Resources
PSC OKs NorthWestern Green Power Tags
Roundtables Website Features Energy News
Database Shows Montana Renewable Energy Facilities
Wind Power Company Lauds PSC for Hearing
Living Homes Includes Tips for Solar Building
Ten New PV Systems Installed under USB Program


Portland to Host NW Green Power Marketing Conference
Lava Hot Springs Tops Idaho Wind Power Sites
Ethanol Projects Awarded $5 Million in USDA Grants
What Is the Net Energy Balance of Ethanol?


MSU News Service - 10/31/2002
Contact: Steve Simonson (406) 827-3074
Duane Johnson (406) 755-4303
Paul Miller at (406) 243-4269

BOZEMAN A Montana growers' cooperative has received a grant to study the feasibility of it producing oil seed crops for conversion into biodiesel fuel. Sustainable Systems LLC, a Missoula based renewable energy research, development and commercialization company, will do the conversion.

Steve Simonson, chair of the co-op's steering committee, received the $46,300 check from a representative of USDA Rural Development in Kalispell Oct. 25.

"This type of project is what we need to be doing to create jobs and revitalize rural Montana's economy," Simonson said. "The agricultural producers are partnering with Sustainable Systems, which developed the technology for efficiently processing canola, mustard and other oil seed crops into biofuels."

The cooperative was known as Montana Eco Fuels of Thompson Falls when it applied for the grant but is now organized under the name Peaks and Prairies Oils Seed Growers Cooperative, said Simonson. The cooperative has five members who comprise a steering committee and will meet in Fort Benton Nov. 21 to explain membership to other Montana producers. The steering

committee includes Simonson of Thompson Falls, Kent Wasson of Malta, John Stoner of Havre, Les Kirschner of Havre, and Jim O'Hara of Fort Benton.

This story is available on the web at: http://www.montana.edu/commserv/csnews/nwview.php?article=582



Montanans who want a vivid view of renewable energy in the state need look no further than the Renewable Energy Atlas, an 80-page, full-color presentation of the renewable energy resources in the West, including newly released high-resolution wind maps of the Pacific Northwest. "Never before has the West's wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass potential been mapped so comprehensively and made so easily available to the general public," according to an Atlas promotion. "The Renewable Energy Atlas uses state-of-the-art GIS technology to inventory the renewable resources in 11 Western states, mapping the high-potential areas in full-color."

An interactive, online version of the Atlas allows users to research renewable resources by ZIP code. The Atlas shows transmission barriers, anticipated regional load growths, and lists state-specific policies that encourage renewable energy development. Electric generation potential is also presented for each resource and state. It is a valuable resource for state and local policy makers, clean energy advocates, renewable energy developers, ranchers, farmers and others interested in developing renewable resources in the West.

The Renewable Energy Atlas was published by the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies (LAW Fund) in cooperation with Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (SEED), with the support of the Hewlett and Energy foundations. To view an online version of the Atlas or to order a hard copy, visit http://www.energyatlas.org.

Printed versions of the Atlas can be ordered for $35 each by contacting Leslie Kaas Pollock, Energy Project Associate, by phone or email at [email protected] or 303-444-1188 x216. The full publication and individual chapters can also be downloaded at www.EnergyAtlas.org

Money raised from Atlas sales will help cover printing and
development costs and help fund the distribution of high-quality bound copies to key decision-makers across the West, including:

* Governors & Secretaries of State 
* State Legislators on Energy Committees
* Utilities
* Utility Commissioners
* Members of Congress
* Bureau of Land Management officers
* County Commissioners in key areas
* Economic Development/Commerce Department officials

Customers of NorthWestern Energy will soon be able to buy "green power" from the utility. On October 16, the Montana Public Service Commission issued an interim order approving NWE's green power service. NWE proposes to offer all customers the attributes of renewable power generation (through a method known as green tags). For $2 per 100 kilowatt-hour block, a charge that is in addition to all other tariff charges, NWE customers can buy green energy, or energy from a renewable resource such as wind power. In July 2002, the Public Service Commission issued public notice of NWE'S application. Comments were received from Natural Resources Defense Council, Renewable Northwest Project, Commercial Energy of Montana (power marketer), Montana Electric Buying Cooperative (power marketer), Montana Environmental Information Center, and Bonneville Environmental Foundation (green tag buyer and seller). None of those commenting opposed the utility's filing as a first step in its efforts to provide a green power service. Most of those commenting suggested something needs to be done now and more needs to be done through time. Some suggested further procedures through a structured setting with a reasonable and definite schedule. The commission agreed with NWE and those commenting on the following points: 

First, it OK'd the utility's proposal on an interim, temporary, first-step basis "as a reasonable effort to implement green power service." 

Second, the commission said, "more does need to be done and it should be done within a time reasonable to all concerned." The commission ordered the utility to implement the order as soon as possible but imposed qualifications. It said NWE should consider, to the extent marketers will be involved, all Montana licensed power marketers to assist in marketing. The commission also asked the utility to file another request for approval of "an advanced, next-step green power service" or a continuation of the current program, if necessary, no later than March 25, 2003.
Interim Public Service Commission Order http://psc.state.mt.us/orders/6448.pdf 
Green Power Product Offering http://www.montanagreenpower.com/pdf/NWE0628DFINAL.pdf 
Schedule No. EGPS-1 http://www.montanagreenpower.com/pdf/Sch%20GPP-1final.pdf 
Montana Electricity Buying Cooperative www.dsireusa.org/library/includes/incentive2.cfm?Incentive_Code=MT06R&state=MT&CurrentPageID=1

Read more about the Green Choice plan at the Montana Environmental Information Center website. http://www.meic.org/Green_Tags.html 

Looking for news about energy developments in Montana and other Rocky Mountain states? Check the Energy News page at the Montana Associated Technology Roundtables (MATR) website. http://www.matr.net/news.phtml?cat_id=9&catlabel=Energy According to its mission statement, MATR "knows that creative entrepreneurial climates and successful companies are developed through active networking." The Roundtables are informal networking organizations in the cities of Montana whose participants include entrepreneurs, business professionals, educators, govt. officials, retirees and students in the state - really anyone interested in seeing an improved economy. It also includes graduates, "expats" and others living elsewhere who a desire to stay connected to the excitement of the Montana economy and participate in its success. 

A table showing all currently tracked renewable energy facilities in Montana is available from the Renewable Electric Plant Information System database. http://www.eren.doe.gov/state_energy/opfacbytech.cfm?state=MT#Photovoltaic

The REPiS database was developed and recently updated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. This database contains information on almost 113,000 MW of renewable energy generation capacity connected to the utility grid. It provides information on renewable energy plants and installed capacity for energy planners, policy makers, and others interested in renewable energy. Originally created in 1984 and now updated through mid-1999, REPiS contains information on operating as well as planned renewable energy units. It covers the following types of renewable energy technologies: biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, photovoltaics, solar thermal, and wind. 

Lee Enterprises State Bureau reported Oct. 5 in a copy-righted story from Helena that Navitas Energy, a Minnesota wind power company, has commended state regulators for scheduling a Nov. 15 hearing on its request to be an independent power provider in Montana. Read more in MontanaForum.com http://www.montanaforum.com/rednews/2002/10/04/build/energy/hearwind.php?nnn=2 

"The house of your dreams does not have to be expensive," according to Thomas J. Elpel of Pony, author of Living Homes. Elpel subtitles his book a "Field Guide to Integrated Design and Construction." "The key is all in the planning," he says. "How much a house costs, how it looks, how comfortable it is, how energy-efficient it is-all these things occur on paper before you pick up even one tool. A little extra time in the planning process can save you tens of thousands of dollars in construction and maintenance. That is time well spent!" The book should interest builders who want to incorporate solar systems. It includes sections on: 

* Principles of Energy Efficiency: Designing Warm Houses for Cold Climates
* Insulation & Insulation Systems Many Choices, Most of Them Bad
* Thermal Mass: How to Capture, Store, and Release Heat
* Solar Input: Passive & Active Solar Systems
* Heating Systems: For Backup Heat & Hot Water
* Rethinking Appliances: Passive Cold Refrigerators & Other Gizmos
* Air Quality: Finding Fresh Air in an Air-Tight Home

Read more about the book at Hollowtop, Elpel's website. http://www.hollowtop.com/hopsstore_html/livinghomes.htm 

The 2001 Montana Residential Solar Electric Demonstration Project resulted in the installation of 10 residential photovoltaic systems in the NorthWestern Energy service area in 2001 and one in early 2002. The objectives of the project were to increase the number of solar demonstration projects, to increase public awareness of the benefits of solar energy, to help create an infrastructure for renewable energy in Montana and to generate electricity from a clean resource.




What motivates customers to sign up for renewable power? How have other utilities resolved billing system bugs? How can we attract more commercial customers to green power programs? The Northwest Green Power Marketing Conference on November 19-20, 2002, in Portland will cover those questions and others facing utilities that have started green power programs or are considering doing so.

"Our goal is to provide helpful advice and ideas that utilities can take home with them," said Charlie Roe at Northwest Public Power Association, one of the conference sponsors. "The conference will give participants a chance to hear from their peers and from outside experts." Topics to be covered at the two-day conference include: 

* Who Buys Green Power & Why? Market Research and Analyzing Your Audience 
* Finding the Words Your Audience Wants to Hear - Targeting the
Audience and Message Development
* Nuts & Bolts - The Mechanics and Logistics of Starting a Utility Green Power Program 
* Creative Marketing Approaches that Are Working in the Northwest
* Getting Businesses on Board
* Keeping Your Customers After They Sign Up
* Regional Legislative Update

Participants will learn how utilities that have faced marketing and logistical challenges have come up with creative solutions, marketing experts specializing in green power, non-profit organizations working on energy issues, and a commercial customer who is signed up renewable power. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel. For more information on the conference and to register, contact NWPPA at (360) 254-0109 or visit: www.nwppa.com/events/ev324_outline.cfm?EVID=02-1148


Boise, Idaho - Sept. 30, 2002 - A mountain ridgeline south of
Lava Hot Springs appears to have the top wind power potential of all state-owned lands in Idaho, Energy Division wind power specialists have announced. Officials estimate the 10-15 mile long ridgeline in the Portneuf Mountain Range about five miles south of Lava Hot Springs could support a wind farm capable to producing up to 150 Megawatts of electrical power. A wind farm that size could potentially involve 100 or more wind rotor towers. A 20-square-mile area in Owyhee County about eight miles northwest of Silver City and a huge 150-square-mile block of state-owned land on ridgelines east of Priest Lake in Bonner and Boundary counties in northern Idaho round out the top three potential wind power development sites.

"The Lava Hot Springs site appears to have excellent potential for wind power development. There is even a location on the ridge named 'Windy Pass' which gives you some idea of the available winds in the area," said Gerald Fleischman, one of the state wind specialists involved in evaluating the sites. Fleischman and a wind power specialist from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory made an evaluation visit to the site in late August.

State wind power specialists selected the top three sites from a list of a dozen sites around the state that showed promise for wind power development following visits to the areas. The Lava Hot Springs site features a long ridgeline situated perpendicular to the prevailing winds in the area. The site is also reasonably close to both existing electrical transmission lines and roads in the area. U.S. government wind resource maps show the area to have Class 6 winds, meaning winds averaging 17-18 miles per hour.

A complete news release is available on the web at:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved 35 grants meant to foster development of alternative energy sources while creating jobs and improving economic growth in rural communities. The alternative energy grants, distributed under the $37 million Value-Added Agricultural Product Market Development program, total more than $7.2 million. The grants fund projects in several states, including Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin, to develop 40-million gallon ethanol facilities. All together, over $5 million dollars in grant funds were awarded to 22 proposed ethanol ventures in 14 states. Iowa projects were awarded the largest sum, $2.2 million.

In Iowa, the Big River Resources Cooperative in Mediapolis will use its $500,000 grant to assist in the start-up of a 40 million gallon ethanol plant. In Holstein, Iowa, a $75,000 grant to the Galva Holstein Ag, LLC will help determine the feasibility of using dried distiller's grain as the basis for an environmentally friendly fertilizer. Dried distiller's grain is a by-product created in the process of making ethanol. In South Dakota, which received $450,000 total, the Farmers Union in Huron will conduct a study to determine if renewable energy ethanol from corn and processed bio-waste from the dairy industry is feasible. A complete list of the alternative energy and other recipients, as well as information about applying for grants, is available at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/vadg.htm

Many questions are being asked and there are many misconceptions about the amount of energy needed to produce ethanol. Ethanol Producers and Consumers (EPAC) has provided a synopsis (below) of a U.S. Department of Agriculture study that addresses that question:

By Hosein Shapouri, James A. Duffield, and Michael S. Graboski Agricultural Economics Report No. 721. 24 pp, July 1995 - Studies conducted since the late 1970's have estimated the net energy value of corn ethanol. However, variations in data and assumptions used among the studies have resulted in a wide range of estimates. This study identifies the factors causing this wide variation and develops a more consistent estimate. They conclude that the net energy value of corn ethanol has become positive in recent years due to technological advances in ethanol conversion and increased efficiency in farm production. They show that corn ethanol is energy efficient as indicated by an energy ratio of 1.24.

Just because something is readily available, doesn't mean it's worth having. - Roy Sheppard

September 2002

The best things in life aren't things. - Art Buchwald


Montana Wind Installations Top 735 Kilowatts
Montana Geothermal Map in Planning Stages
Helena Solar Tour 2002 Set for Oct. 5
NWE to Buy Power from Renewable Energy Providers
NCAT Releases Report on Solar Heating Installations
Whitehall Wind-power Plant on the Drawing Board
NCAT Solar Home Guide Now On Line
Bozeman Couple Wins Variance for Solar Array


Bio-based Information System Takes Off
Green Energy: Planting the Seeds for Growth
For Solar Energy News, Visit Solarbuzz
Wyoming County Votes to Allow Wind Turbine Proposal


Homeowners, ranchers and farmers, and businesses across Montana are generating their own electricity from the wind. A survey by Montana Green Power has identified more than 735 kilowatts in wind electric generation across the state."


Green Power and Market Research News reports that new geothermal
resource maps for Idaho and New Mexico have been completed by the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, with assistance from local experts. "Maps for Utah, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada are nearing completion," Randy Manion reports. "Work has begun on a geothermal resource map for Alaska, and the Arizona map work will soon begin." Manion also says a regional map for the Western states also has been initiated, and maps for Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado will soon be underway to complete the region. For hard copies of the Idaho and New Mexico maps contact Pat Laney at [email protected], 208-526-7468 or see the web at: http://geothermal.inel.gov/maps-software.

A tour of solar and alternative homes and buildings is set for Saturday, Oct. 5, in the Helena area. Tour hosts are the Montana Environmental Information Center, Alternative Energy Resources Organization and Rocky Mountain Development Council. Five locations will be featured this year, demonstrating active and passive solar systems, wind energy, alternative building materials, low-income alternative energy options and net metering equipment.

The tour is part of the American Solar Energy Society (http://www.ases.org/ National Tour of Solar Homes, taking place the same day in over 800 communities in 44 states. Take the tour and see for yourself how solar energy works for real people in real places in Montana. There is a $5 suggested donation. Space is limited, and advance registration is required. For reservations, please contact Patrick Judge or Jessie Peterson at 443-2520 or send an email message to [email protected].

Here are the details: 
Tour Community: Helena
Coordinating Organization: Montana Environmental Information
Center (MEIC)
Contact Person: Pat Judge
Phone: 406-443-2520
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.meic.org
Number of Homes/Businesses on Tour: 4-5
Fee: $5/person

Instructions: Pre-register with MEIC as space is limited. Directions: Tour begins at 9:00am, Oct. 5th at MEIC's building, 107 W. Lawrence.


Butte, Mont. - Sept. 13, 2002 - NorthWestern Energy has signed an agreement to purchase renewable power on behalf of its default supply customers from Thompson River Co-Gen of Kalispell and has entered into a memorandum of understanding to purchase power from Tiber-Montana, LLC of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The contract with Thompson River Co-Gen calls for NorthWestern Energy to purchase approximately 10 megawatts of electricity from Thompson River Lumber mill's biomass co-generation plant for 10 years beginning in late 2003. The price per megawatt hour is fixed at $40, which reflects a cost of service or rate of return methodology. After 10 years, NorthWestern Energy will have an option to renew the contract for five years at a reduced rate of about $34 per megawatt. 

The memorandum of understanding with Tiber-Montana involves the purchase of 5 megawatts of electricity from a new hydroelectric plant to be built at the existing Tiber Dam owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation near Chester in north central Montana. The MOU establishes the company's intent to enter into a 10-year contract that will be structured to provide customers additional benefits during periods of high hydro availability. The price is equivalent to approximately $39 per megawatt during the initial term with an option for renewal for an additional five-year term at approximately $32.50. "These projects provide a valuable renewable resource component to the portfolio," Dennis Lopach, NorthWestern Energy's senior vice president of administration, said in a news release. "In addition, the price impact to the overall default supply is minimal and is consistent with the cost of service or rate of return approach traditionally followed by the Montana Public Service Commission."

NorthWestern Energy has been working with Thompson River Co-Gen
and Tiber-Montana for more than 15 months to develop the contract and has conducted extensive due diligence on each of these projects. "In addition to NorthWestern Energy's work on the renewable generation portion of the portfolio, we are focusing on a solution to provide a competitively priced dispatchable electricity resource that can ramp up and down as demand fluctuates and to ensure reliability to the system," Lopach said. "The dispatchable generation resource will enable NorthWestern Energy to incorporate additional competitively priced renewable energy sources, such as intermittent wind resources. We also are initiating studies to add demand-side management resources to the portfolio."

Lopach pointed out that NorthWestern Energy has encountered occasional problems in finding available power to meet peak demand periods this summer. While these problems did not impair system integrity, there were moments during the heat wave in early July 2002 when peak demand and supply were out-of-balance due to the lack of "dispatchable" peaking power available in the region. Energy supply costs from the new contracts will be tracked and reviewed annually and the costs submitted to the Commission annually for approval. This is the same process that has been used to track natural gas costs for NorthWestern Energy's Montana customers for about 20 years. 

NorthWestern Energy, as the default supplier, provides electricity supply and transmission services to Montana customers who have not yet chosen a competitive supplier or for whom competitive options do not exist. Regardless of a customer's choice of supplier, NorthWestern Energy continues to provide distribution service to all of its customers at regulated rates. Information about the new default supply rates and the resources regarding energy choice are available at www.northwesternenergy.com/energychoice

NorthWestern Energy is the energy delivery business of NorthWestern Corporation. Further information about NorthWestern Energy is available on the Internet at www.northwesternenergy.com


Owners of a Minneapolis wind-power company that challenged NorthWestern Energy's choice for wind power in the default power portfolio is forging ahead with its plan to build and operate a wind generation facility in Whitehall, the Montana Standard reports in a copyrighted story. Reporter Leslie McCartney quotes Northern Alternative Energy President John Jaunich, who says it's possible a wind-power manufacturing plant could locate on the facilities of Golden Sunlight Mine.


Solar electric power generated using "photovoltaics," or "PVs," is used in hundreds of applications throughout Montana. Applications vary from roadside signs to high mountain communications towers and from hand-held calculators to stock-water pumping systems. Montana Solar House - A Guide to Adding Solar to Your Home focuses on the use of solar electricity in homes and small businesses. It provides basic information about system components and what to expect when shopping for a solar electric system. Chapter 2 discusses solar water-heating and solar air-heating systems. The guide was developed with funding provided by NorthWestern Energy's universal system benefits program.

Montana Solar House - A Guide to Adding Solar to Your Home (457KB PDF)


A Bozeman couple who installed a solar electric system at their home has won a variance from the City Commission for their pole-mounted PV array, according to a copyrighted story in the Sept. 5 Bozeman Daily Chronicle. The commission granted the variance to Albert and Penelope Foster after the local planning staff determined that the solar assembly encroaches on front- and side-yard setbacks set by a zoning code. The Fosters received partial funding for their system through a universal system benefits program administered by NorthWestern Energy. They a sought a variance. Now the commission says it will discuss clarifying rules for installing solar equipment in Bozeman.



Green Power and Market Research News reports on a new interactive website and online survey launched by the Biobased Manufacturers Association. The Biobased Information System (BIS) http://biobased.org/index.html created by AgroTech Communications, Inc. sorts and administers information flow between originators of biobased information, publishers of that information, and the thousands of consumers worldwide who benefit from the system. The site features bio-energy news, "ag-fiber news," legislative updates and "new crops/new uses."

September 11, 2002
By Ken Silverstein - SCIENTECH
Director, Energy Industry Analysis[News item from The Renewable Northwest Project] The amount of green power purchased by retail customers in the Northwest more than tripled since last year. A new report titled "Powerful Choices" says that customers in the Northwest purchased the equivalent of the annual output from 94 wind turbines. Analysis: With alarm bells sounding over global warming and acid rain, groups are beating the drums for renewable energy. And consumers, regulators and utilities are beginning to listen. Alternative-energy forms are expected to gain market share, although significant hurdles stand in the way. Renewable-energy markets are young with a fixed number of companies developing the resources in North America. As a result, the technologies that would facilitate its growth and enable it to become a prevalent fuel source used by utilities are still in their infancy. Some utilities offer green energy. But if such options are to become the norm, consumers must be made aware of their alternatives and new government incentives are necessary to make development financially feasible. Download the entire report: Green Energy: Planting the Seeds for Growth (44KB PDF)

Village Power Newsletter reports on a website that anybody interested in solar energy should want to receive. Solarbuzz.com (http://www.solarbuzz.com/) provides visitors with current global solar electricity prices, and index of the latest U.S. module prices, global solar energy news, updates on solar companies and a free weekly newsletter that summarizes solar energy news.

Billings Gazette Wyoming Bureau reporter By Mike Stark writes about a grid-tied wind turbine that won approval from the proposal Park County (Wyoming). http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?display=rednews/2002/09/04/build/wyoming/10-windpower.inc


The hen is an egg's way of producing another egg. - Samuel Butler

August 2002

Harrison "Jack" Schmitt made the final moon landing aboard Apollo 17 in December 1972 along with Gene Cernan. While on the moon, Cernan told Schmitt to take time to admire the Earth. "I said to Gene, 'Look, when you have seen one Earth, you have seen them all'."


Sun Pumping Sweet Water for Dillon-area Ranch
Grow the Best Biodiesel Crops on Your Farm
Wind Project among Cancelled Contracts
Wind Harness Proceeding Despite Contract Cancellation
Regional DOE Award Goes to Montana Solar Partnership
Sage Mountain Center Wins Education Award
Powering the Future on Tribal Lands
Montana Wind Power Study Funded By USDA Grant
Montana Company to Begin Bio-oil Production
DNRC to Offer Lands for Wind Energy Development
Comments Due on Montana Electricity Guides
NWE Hopes to Offer Customers Green Certificates

Customer-Sited Photovoltaics: State Market Analysis
Paper Summarizes Federal Renewable Energy Incentives
Wind Power for Pennies


Montana Standard reporter Perry Backus reports on a tour of a demonstration solar stock-water pumping project in the Sweetwater Basin near Sheridan. www.mtstandard.com/rednews/2002/07/22/build/newsregional/regnews1.html

Al Kurki of the National Center for Appropriate Technology discusses the advantages of raising crops for biodiesel fuel in a story published in The Prairie Star. "If you think the soybean growing regions of the country will have a long-term advantage in raising crops for biodiesel fuel, well think again!" Kurki writes. "The list of top 30 plant species with the highest oil yield for biodiesel doesn't even include soybeans. As matter of fact, of the more common commodity-type crops that can be raised for biodiesel in this country, soybeans rank as only the eighth best oil-yielding crop."


NorthWestern Energy has canceled its proposed power supply contracts for five planned generation projects around Montana, including a 150-megawatt wind power project proposed by Montana Wind Harness. Lee State Bureau reporter Charles Johnson explains in a story in the Helena Independent Record.



The developer of a major wind power project in Montana says he's going ahead with plans even though NorthWestern Energy has canceled its contract with the company. Doug Barba of Ameresco Inc., the managing partner of Montana Wind Harness, told the Great Falls Tribune that his company is in a "wait-and-see mode" on its proposed 150-megawatt wind-power project. "It's just a matter of understanding what NorthWestern is going to do," Barba told Tribune reporter Mike Dennison in a copyrighted story.

A Montana partnership that includes utilities, retail businesses, government agencies and non-profit groups has received one of six U.S. Department of Energy Million Solar Roofs Best Progress awards. According to Kathy Hadley, executive director of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) in Butte, more than 250 solar electric and solar water heating systems have been installed on buildings in Montana since 1999.

Those include dozens of homes on and off the electric grid, schools in 16 communities, a fire station in Missoula, a "Prayer Lodge" on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Busby, the state Capitol in Helena, and Spa Hot Springs resort in White Sulphur Springs.

"Montana has really excelled at developing solar energy over the last few years," Hadley said. "We have a unique partnership that has resulted in a lot of people working together to get solar projects installed. Because of our on-the-ground successes, we have been selected for the Best Progress award in the U.S. Department of Energy's Denver region, beating out eight other partnerships from the states of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah."

The award was announced at the American Solar Energy Society's annual conference in Reno, Nevada, in June. The Montana partnership, developed and led by NCAT, includes Northwestern Energy, solar equipment dealers across the state, some rural electric cooperatives, the Department of Environmental Quality and other state government agencies, Bonneville Power Administration, Western Area Power Administration, Indian tribes and non-profit groups.

According to Dave Ryan, a NorthWestern Energy engineer and president of the Montana Renewable Energy Association, the partnership goal is to install 1,000 systems in Montana by the end of 2010.

"The great progress we have made over the past few years is an indication of the cooperation we have had among a diverse group of interests coming together to encourage renewable energy development in Montana," Ryan said. "Working with policy makers, utilities, and renewable business, we hope to continue this excellent trend of building renewable energy."

Announced in June 1997, the Million Solar Roofs initiative works to remove market barriers and strengthen the demand for solar energy. Its goal is to install solar energy systems on one million U.S. buildings by 2010. The initiative includes two types of solar technology: solar electric systems (or photovoltaics) that produce electricity from sunlight and solar thermal systems that produce heat for domestic hot water, space heating, or heating swimming pools.

Sage Mountain Center of Whitehall recently received the Corporation for the Northern Rockies Sustainable Education Award. The award is given for "outstanding leadership in educating the public about sustainability and energy conservation."

The award ceremony took place at the annual Sustainability Fair in Livingston on July 13. The Fair drew 2,000 visitors and included 71 booths and displays set up by vendors, non- profits and government agencies in Rotary Park next to the Historic Depot Center in downtown Livingston.

Among the energy exhibitors were Pine Ridge Products, Oasis Montana, Sun Power Plus, Independent Power Systems, Planetary Systems, the Montana Renewable Energy Association, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Wind Powering America, Sage Mountain Center, Sustainable Systems LLC, the Montana Electricity Buying Cooperative, Ethanol Producers and Consumers, and NorthWestern Energy.

The 2002 theme was "Shining a Light on Sustainable Choices." Fair-goers could learn how to cope with rising gas and energy prices and take the first steps toward energy independence by learning how to get off the grid. They sampled (or bought) fruits and vegetables from a sustainable garden, tasted produce and meat from local farms and ranches, strolled through native and drought-resistant trees and shrubs, discovered healthful and environmentally friendly apparel, cosmetics, and home products, and viewed cutting-edge energy technologies and building materials.

The Education Award was one of four categories including: trendsetter, innovator and sustainable agriculture.

By Michelle Tirado - American Indian Report
What's not to like about renewable energy? It promises energy sustainability. Biomass technology, low-impact hydro, solar panels and wind turbines can deliver low-cost electricity to populations living in remote regions - people off the grid or stuck paying premium rates for traditional power. It's "green," having little to no adverse effects on air, earth, wildlife and people. And in areas rich in these renewable resources, it could be a revenue generator.

Green power has certainly caught Indian Country's eye. Across the nation, including Alaska, tribes are starting to take a serious look at their renewable energy options. And the timing couldn't be better.

In late April, the U.S. Senate passed the long-awaited, long-debated Energy Policy Act - an enormous piece of legislation, authored by U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman - which strives to set the nation on a course towards energy independence. Major provisions of the Act were tailored for Indian Country. It establishes a Comprehensive Indian Energy Program at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help tribes develop their energy resources, such as by reducing the amount of red tape often attached to federal programs. Download the article on renewable energy on tribal land, including Montana.

Powering the Future (3.1MB PDF)

USDA Rural Development recently awarded a $60,120 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to Bear Paw Development Corporation. Grant funds will be used to develop a feasibility study to determine the profitability of generating electricity using wind power in north central Montana.

The ultimate recipient of grant funds is Wind Park Solutions America, a small start-up company based in Big Sandy. The company, operated by Bob Quinn of Big Sandy, is a subsidiary of Wind Park Solutions GmbH, Sande, Germany.

Bear Paw Development serves a vast, rural, five-county area of north central Montana that is rich in natural resources, including wind power. While traditionally considered a negative aspect of life in north central Montana, the strong winds have become a positive attribute in the search for the development of alternative energy sources. Harnessing wind power can be exploited in a way that has minimal impact on the environment while contributing to the area's economy, according to a USDA news release.

The project is designed to take advantage of circumstances in the national energy marketplace and to study the feasibility of harnessing the area's strong winds for generating electricity for Montana and the western United States.

Rural Development grant funds will finance the electrical grid-transmission line study, market analysis, marketing plan, management plan, operations plan, construction cost analysis and bird migration pattern studies. Three sites were chosen for the study, two in Wheatland County and one in Choteau County.

Missoula Independent reporter Jed Gottlieb writes about a group of "forward-thinking Montanans" from Wheatland County south of Lewistown plan to boost their flagging economy by getting into the oil business. "They're not looking to drill for the black gold in some wildlife refuge. They intend to grow it," says Gottlieb. "The group, Environmental Alternatives, LLC, recently embarked on a feasibility study to examine the economic prospects of producing bio-oil, an environmentally sound lubricant made from canola that can be used in place of petroleum-based oil.


The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is accepting proposal for wind energy exploration and development on State School Trust Land. For more information, see the Energize Montana website. The Department will offer state lands nominated for wind energy exploration/development every three months in January, April, July and October. 


NorthWestern Energy customers would be able to buy "green power" under a proposal the utility has submitted to the Montana Public Service Commission.

The green power offering fulfills a requirement by the 2001Montana Legislature that NorthWestern Energy as the default power supplier offer its customers the chance to buy a separate green power product.

Green power offerings allow customers to support the generation of renewable energy through existing projects and to encourage the development of additional renewable generation. In effect, customers can choose to pay a premium on their electric bill for the environmental benefits associated with renewable generation.

NWE proposes to buy the initial green power product from Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) and sell it to electric distribution customers in 100-kilowatt hour blocks for $2 per block. Customers may choose to buy multiple blocks. NorthWestern has 288,000 eligible residential customers and 30,000 eligible commercial customers. Of those, the utility expects 0.50 percent of the residential customers, or 1,400, and 1 percent of the commercial customers, or 300, to participate.

The utility suggests in its filing with the PSC that initial customer participation and acceptance may be affected by the fact that the offering coincides with the July 1, 2002, rate increase following several years of no electric supply rate increases. 

If the Public Service Commission approves the proposal and the rates to support it, the program will begin immediately in the NorthWestern Energy Montana service territory. Details about the proposal are in the documents the utility submitted to the PSC:

Letter of Transmittal to the PSC

Green Power Product Offering Program Plan

Green Power Product Offering Program Rate Schedule

The Environmental Quality Council's Energy Subcommittee is reviewing public comments on a pair of guides explaining energy in Montana. Comments were due July 10 on the following draft publications prepared for the Environmental Quality Council's 

Energy Subcommittee:

1. "Understanding Electricity in Montana: A Guide to Electricity, Natural Gas and Coal Produced and Consumed in Montana"

2. "The Electricity Law Handbook: A Montanan's Guide to Understanding Electricity Law"

Both are available online:


See "Study Reports" in the lower right-hand corner.


As the energy industry seeks new definition, either within regulation or through utility restructuring, emerging policies have resulted in more favorable economics for residential customer-sited photovoltaics. A quartet of solar energy policy experts has put together a six-page paper titled Customer-Sited Photovoltaics: State Market Analysis that identifies the break-even turnkey cost (BTC) state by state. Montana ranks 23rd in BTC, up from 46th in 1999.

The breakeven turnkey cost represents the installed turnkey cost of a PV system that an average residential consumer in each state could pay for the system and neither make or lose money but rather break even over the life of the system. It is the market hurdle value.

The paper is partly in response to a U.S. Treasury Department request for an analysis of the effect of a 15% residential tax credit on the customer-sited photovoltaic market. The paper includes the federal tax credit and updated state PV deployment incentives in the life-cycle cash-flow analysis, and develops new state-by-state BTCs. "Though energy policy is currently unpredictable, federal tax credits are historically effective tools for both the business and private sector as part of overall government economic objectives," the authors say.

The authors are Christy Herig of the National Renewable Energy Lab; Susan Gouchoe and Rusty Haynes of the North Carolina Solar Center; Richard Perez of the University at Albany; and Tom Hoff of Clean Power Research.

Download Customer-Sited Photovoltaics: State Market Analysis at the Interstate Renewable Energy Council website.



Since 1995, the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) has served as the nation's most comprehensive source of information on the status of programs and incentives for renewable energy. Available on the Web at www.dsireusa.org, consumers, government leaders, business entrepreneurs, and others rely on DSIRE to educate themselves on the array of renewable energy programs available locally and across the United States.

In March 2002, selected federal incentives were added to DSIRE. Valerie Everette of the North Carolina Solar Center has written a five-page paper that focuses on the results of a review of federal government incentives, programs, and policies. The paper can be downloaded from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council website.

Paper (189KB PDF)

By Peter Fairley July/August 2002 
Technology Review
Windmills may finally be ready to compete with fossil-fuel generators. The technology trick: turn them backwards and put hinges on their blades. The newest wind turbine standing at Rocky Flats in Colorado, the U.S. Department of Energy's proving ground for wind power technologies, looks much like any other apparatus for capturing energy from wind: a boxy turbine sits atop a steel tower that sprouts two propeller blades stretching a combined 40 meters almost half the length of a football field. Wind brushes by, blades rotate, and electricity flows.

But there's a key difference. This prototype has flexible, hinged blades; in strong winds, they bend back slightly while spinning.



If you have renewable energy News or an Energy Tip for posting on the website, please send it to [email protected]. Please forward the newsletter to others who may be interested in renewable energy in Montana.

If you want to remove yourself from this mailing list, please send an e-mail to <[email protected]> with the following command in the body of your email message: unsubscribe montanagreenpower

If you ever need to contact the owner of the list, if you have trouble unsubscribing or if you have questions about the list itself, send email to: <[email protected]>.



Personally... I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. Winston Churchill

July 2002

A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. - Walter Bagehot


PSC Formalizes Order Denying 5 NWE Deals
Montana Consumer's Wind Guide On Line
Tour of Solar-Powered Livestock Watering System Planned 
Sustainability Fair Set for July 12-13 in Livingston
Kyocera Sells Sunelco Division in Hamilton
Wind Energy Developer Sees Problems with PSC Ruling
Solar Lighting Shines on Old Glory
Behold the Power of the Wind
Consumers See the Light, Switch Bulbs
New Farm Bill Helps Farmers Cash In on Renewable Energy


Bonneville 'Green Tags' Encourage PV Installations
Solar Stats: Americans Love Solar Power
Biodiesel Testimonials, Pictures On Line 
DOE Website Tracks Green Power Marketing
Consumers See the Light, Switch Bulbs
Farm Bill Helps Farmers Cash In on Renewable Energy
Largest Public Wind Project Ready for Assembly
Website Features State-by-state Restructuring Guide
American Council for Renewable Energy Organizes


Charles Johnson of the Lee Enterprises State Bureau reports that by a 4-1 vote, the Montana Public Service Commission approved the final order that lists a number of ways for NorthWestern Energy to improve the method it used to obtain a supply of electricity for 295,000 customers. The PSC order caps a nine-month process in which NorthWestern, formerly Montana Power Co., was required to assemble contracts with power generators to furnish power for Montanans beginning July 1. The PSC order rejected a deal with Montana Wind Harness.


Order No. 6382d - http://psc.state.mt.us/orders/6382d.pdf

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. You can learn about small wind systems and whether one is right for you in a new booklet published jointly by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Center for Appropriate Technology and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. Small Wind Electric Systems - A Montana Consumer's Guide includes a wind resource map of Montana, an explanation of state incentives for installing a wind system and a list of contacts for more information. Small Wind Electric Systems - A Montana Consumer's Guide (2MB PDF)


For years the Sauerbier Ranch watched in frustration as abundant grass on about half of the ranch's eight-section pasture in the Sweetwater Basin (between Alder and Dillon) went unused by cattle. The land on this family owned ranch was too far from any source of drinking water, and the animals inevitably stayed close to Sweetwater Creek. Pumping water to a stock tank did not appear to be an option because the nearest power line was at least ten miles away.

Cattle on the Sauerbier Ranch will be roaming farther and more freely this summer, thanks to a new solar-powered pumping system that was installed last September. On Thursday, July 11 the Ruby Valley Conservation District and the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) will sponsor a tour of this project, along with a tour of irrigation ditch improvements in the Ruby valley.

The tour will begin at 10 a.m. at the Alder Community Center. The first stop will be a number of nearby irrigation ditches where measuring devices and fish-friendly diversion structures have been installed. These projects were built as part of a basin-wide effort to improve water management, protect the outstanding fishery in the Ruby River, and prevent a recurrence of a fish kill that took place during the 1994 drought. The Ruby Valley Conservation District was responsible for these projects, with funding from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

Lunch will be provided at the Alder Community Center at 11:30.

The tour will then leave for the solar pumping site in the Sweetwater Basin at about 12:30, arriving at the site around 1:30. Participants should be back in Alder by 4 p.m.

NCAT, a non-profit organization located in Butte, helped the Sauerbier Ranch design and build its solar pumping project, with major cost-sharing from the Montana Power Company (now NorthWestern Energy) Universal System Benefits Charge program. The Natural Resources Conservation Service contributed significant funding and technical assistance, and Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks and the National Fish & Wildlife Service were significant funders too. The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Ruby Valley Conservation District, and the Bureau of Land Management were also involved in the project.

Solar pumping is one of the most cost-effective uses of solar energy today, and the Sweetwater project is possibly the largest and most powerful solar pumping project ever built in Montana. A three-horsepower piston pump, powered by 24 120-Watt solar panels, pushes 11 gallons of water per minute up a large hill, through a 12,000-foot pipeline, and into an 8,500 gallon storage tank. Water flows by gravity from this tank to several nearby stock-watering tanks. The ranch has traditionally pastured 300 cattle on this land, but the owners hope that the new watering system and increased forage base will possibly allow them to expand the herd.

In addition to benefiting the cattle, the project should also benefit trout in the creek, by reducing grazing pressure along the stream banks. Doornbos, a local volunteer fireman, came up with the idea of installing a valve on the storage tank that allows fire trucks fighting range fires to fill their water tanks - a benefit to property owners living in this dry and remote area.

To learn more about solar pumping, NCAT suggests a visit to its Montana Green Power website (www.montanagreenpower.com), where the Sweetwater project and many other solar projects in Montana are described in detail.

The tour will be free and open to the public. For more information, or to reserve your free lunch, please contact Shirley Galovic by Tuesday, July 9, at 842-5741 x 101 or [email protected].

Contact: Mike Morris
1 (406) 494-8660
[email protected]

The Corporation for the Northern Rockies' Sustainability Fair will be held July 13 in Livingston, Montana. The Fair will feature an array of alternative energy and energy conservation booths. Organizers are also constructing a "Sustainable Kitchen" at the fair site that will showcase the newest innovations in sustainable building materials, energy efficient appliances and alternative energy features available to homeowners.

The Fair will be at the historic Depot Center and Rotary Park in downtown Livingston. "We expect 3,500 people," said Lill Erickson, executive director of the Corporation for the Northern Rockies. Erickson noted that for vendors of green power "the fair is an excellent venue for their products." Contact CNR at [email protected]; 406-222-0730; or P.O. Box 1448, Livingston, MT 59047. www.northrock.org

SolarAccess (www.solaraccess.com) reports that Kyocera Solar, Inc. has sold Sunelco, its catalog and retail sales division in Hamilton, Montana, to Tom Bishop, a long-time Sunelco employee and division manager. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.


Charles S. Johnson of the Montana Lee Bureau quotes a wind developer who says the Montana Public Service Commission's recent action could hurt prospects of new energy generation plants being built in the state as part of NorthWestern Energy's default supply portfolio. The developer is an executive of the company that owns most of Montana Wind Harness.


Montana Standard reporter Vera Haffey reports on a solar-lit flag in Anaconda. "Thanks to the tenacity of an Anaconda veteran and an outpouring of specialized support from townspeople," the story says, "flags illuminated by solar power now fly 24 hours a day over the graves of local service men and women in New Hill and Lower Hill cemeteries." A similar setup illuminates an American flag that waves over veterans' graves at another cemetery west of town. www.mtstandard.com/rednews/2001/06/10/build/anaconda/ana1.html

In an Ennis, Montana-datelined story, Deborah Carbery reports in The Montana Standard on small wind energy systems in the Madison Valley. "With its prevalent but sporadic winds, is wind energy a viable energy resource for the Madison Valley?" she asks. "For Bill Von Brethorst of Ennis, wind energy not only powers his home, it is also how he makes his living.


Amy Joyner of the Missoulian reports that compact fluorescents produce the same light but greater savings. At $8 to $15 each, today's high-demand, low-energy compact fluorescent lamp may cause sticker shock, but over time the lights prove their worth.


Al Kurki, ATTRA Program Specialist
Imagine harvesting wind and biomass on CRP lands. Picture biodiesel-fueled tractors, combines, trucks and buses. Farmers and ranchers generating and selling renewable energy as a value added agricultural product. Over the next few years, all these notions could become reality throughout the rural United States thanks to the clean energy development provisions of the new Farm Bill, passed by Congress and signed by the President in May.



To meet the demand of their customers for solar energy, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) will provide incentives to install 80 kilowatts of new solar capacity." June 18, 2002 (Reno, NV) - The Bonneville Environmental Foundation announced today that it will pay the owners of new photovoltaic systems 10 cents per kilowatt hour for the environmental attributes - or Green Tags - associated with their operation to satisfy the new solar specified in sales agreements with Xantrex Technology Inc. and Schott Applied Power. Both companies have signed commitments for Green Tags requiring the installation of 80 kW of solar to meet their demand.

The announcement was made during the National Solar Energy Conference presented by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) in Reno, Nevada. ASES demonstrated its support for renewable energy by buying BEF Green Tags to offset the environmental impact of the electricity use of the four-day conference. "We are pleased to welcome Schott Applied Power into our 100% club for companies that purchase enough renewable energy to meet all of their electricity needs. And, to provide special acknowledgement for Xantrex Technology," said Robert Harmon, Vice President of BEF and Director of Renewable Energy Programs for the Foundation. "After making the 100% commitment to Green Tags in 2001 for their facility in Arlington, Washington, Xantrex has now expanded to include their facility in Livermore, California."

Both of these companies made a three-year commitment that specifies that 5% of their Green Tags come from new solar resources. This makes Xantrex the largest purchaser of solar Green Tags in the United States.

Green Tags represent the offset in emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants that occur when renewable energy replaces traditional forms of power generation. BEF Green Tags, which are certified by Green-e and The Climate Neutral Network, come from new wind and solar resources endorsed by three regional environmental groups. The net revenue from selling BEF Green Tags is invested in the next new renewable energy project.

"Our commitment to green power demonstrates our commitment to a sustainable future," said Kevin Hagen, Director of Sales and Marketing for Xantrex' Distributed Power Market Unit. " 

Learn More about Green Tags - https://www.greentagsusa.org/GreenTags/index.cfm

Solar is booming and it has the potential to play a significant role in making America more energy independent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (http://www.seia.org). "From Maine to Hawaii, voters want more emphasis on solar power, and this support is found across party lines and across geographic regions of the country. Read SEIA's poll numbers:


The latest Energy Ag News Briefs highlights the National Biodiesel Board's website. Biodiesel user pictures and testimonials, fuel fact sheets and a searchable biodiesel report database are among the items visitors will find at the site, officially titled "Biodiesel - The Clear Choice."


Archived issues of Energy Ag News Briefs are available online.


The U.S. Department of Energy issues a monthly update that summarizes recent green power marketing activity, including news and information on competitive green power marketing, utility green pricing programs, and related market activity. Additional information on green power markets and products, as well as links to green power companies, can be found on the U.S. Green Power Network website: http://www.eren.doe.gov/greenpower

The National Energy Affordability and Accessibility Project (NEAAP) website. Provides consumer news and information consumers about energy affordability, energy restructuring and deregulation and energy prices. The site features a U.S. "Restructuring Guide at a Glance" and state restructuring profiles, plus details on energy programs available to all residential consumers, including the low income.



The American Council for Renewable Energy will hold its organizing conference July 10-11 in Washington, D.C. The fledgling organization says its mission is to bring renewable energy into the mainstream of America's economy and lifestyle.

ACRE says it will accomplish this by creating a leadership forum, building a greater sense of common purpose among the renewable energy community and with related communities, developing a better understanding about renewable energy issues, and sponsoring a major national outreach and education initiative about the benefits of putting renewable energy to use in America.

ACRE's focus will be on fostering pubic awareness at a level that has not been achieved in the past. ACRE's theme is "putting renewable energy first" among energy supply options for all of American society. ACRE's scope includes the promotion of all renewable energy options: solar energy; wind power; hydro power; geothermal energy; biomass energy and biofuels; hydrogen energy systems; and waste fuels.

In addition, ACRE says its scope will include, secondarily, the promotion of other related technologies that enhance the value of renewable energy including energy efficiency, energy storage, and hybrid energy systems (i.e., PV-diesel).

ACRE says its "core philosophy" will be the advocacy of renewable energy on a positive basis. "That is, while ACRE acknowledges and will respect the fact that many of its members will have positions against fossil and/or nuclear energy, and others may have limitations on their support for renewables (i.e. not large hydro, or not wind power in visually valuable places, or not waste-to-energy of certain kinds), ACRE will not seek to encompass, espouse or resolve those concerns itself. ACRE has no negative agendas. ACRE will focus on the shared positive advocacy of renewable energy."


If you have renewable energy News or an Energy Tip for posting on the website, please send it to [email protected]. Please forward the newsletter to others who may be interested in renewable energy in Montana. If you want to remove yourself from this mailing list, please send an e-mail to <[email protected]> with the following command in the body of your email message: unsubscribe montanagreenpower

If you ever need to contact the owner of the list, if you have trouble unsubscribing or if you have questions about the list itself, send email to: <[email protected]>.


...in order to understand the nature of things, we must begin by asking, not whether a thing is good or bad, [...] but of what kind it is? And how much is there of it? James Clerk Maxwell

June 2002

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them Albert Einstein

Wind Power Contract - Point & Counterpoint
Montana Wind Harness Says Project 'On Track'
NorthWestern Energy Posts Net Metering Documents
Bozeman Students Discover Solar Power
Five Additional PV Systems Installed under Sun4Schools
Alternative Energy Income Tax Break Goes into Effect This Year
Whitehall Group Requests Review of Wind Power Bids
Helena Non-profit Plans Kids' Renewable Energy Camp
PSC Considers 'Default Supply Portfolio'

Hot Planet? Read More about the Debate
Online 'AgJournal' Features Solar, Wind Installations
New Farm Bill Funds Green Energy Development
Electronic News Sheets Deliver Green Energy Updates
Wind Working Group Sets June Summit
Opinion: Find a Better Way to Power the Nation


Wind Power Contract - Point & Counterpoint
The head of a Montana local development corporation and a corporate officer in an energy development company offer two versions of the recent awarding of a 150-megawatt wind power project.

Scott Mendenhall, manager of the Jefferson Local Development Corp., suggests in an editorial in The Montana Standard daily newspaper that the wind portion of the default supply portfolio secured by NorthWestern should be subject to arbitration.

Doug Barba, executive vice president of Ameresco of Framingham, Mass., the 99-percent owner of Montana Wind Harness, the wind contractor, disputes Mendenhall's claims in a counter-editorial, also published in The Standard. Read their conflicting points of view. http://www.montanagreenpower.com/wind/mwhcounterpoint.html

Montana Wind Harness Says Project 'On Track'
Montana Wind Harness has signed long-term leases for its major wind sites in Montana, according to Ameresco Inc., the 99 percent owner of the company. This is one of several major milestones successfully completed by Montana Wind Harness in the development of 150 megawatts of wind power in the state, the company announced in a press release issued May 14.

"With these signed leases in hand," said Doug Barba, executive vice president of Ameresco, "we are on schedule to begin construction of this $150 million project later this fall."

Barba said the company started out looking at 13 major sites in Montana.

"As we gathered wind data, those 13 sites were narrowed to locations in Cascade, Glacier, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Stillwater and Wheatland counties," he said. "We now have signed long-term leases for our key sites."

Each of the sites has commercial wind resource potential, he said. The company has complete data for the site at Cut Bank, in Cascade County, and continues to gather data from the other sites. So far, the wind data from the other sites is comparable to the Cut Bank site, and confirms the potential of wind energy in Montana, Barba said.

He said Wind Harness will complete its analysis of the other sites in the next three months.

"The main point is Montana Wind Harness has the land under lease to complete the project pursuant to the terms of our contract with NorthWestern Energy," Barba said.

He said Montana Wind Harness employs "state-of-the-art" European wind turbine technology that is far different from the turbines Montanans have previously seen. Previous generations of wind turbines were relatively small and difficult to maintain, he said.

"The large up to 1.5 megawatt turbines that Montana Wind Harness will install are graceful giants that have been proven in installations across Europe," Barba said.

Each turbine will generate enough electrical power for more than 1,300 homes. Each of Wind Harness' sites will have 35 to 40 of these turbines. Barba said the company ultimately will develop three sites from those that are under consideration.

He noted that Montanans have been harnessing the wind for generations.

"For over 100 years, Montanans have used our wind to pump water for livestock," he said. "In more recent years, wind turbines near Livingston have been used to generate electricity on a limited scale."

The current project is much different, said Barba.

"Montana Wind Harness will erect up to 115 turbines, and generate over 100 times the power of the Livingston turbines. We view this as only the start for wind power in Montana. The owners of Montana Wind Harness hope to develop future projects in the state after we have put these turbines successfully on-line."

Barba added that the analysis of wind data "has been most gratifying."

He said Wind Harness has installed numerous anemometers (wind data collection instruments).

"By using correlating data from nearby sites, Montana Wind Harness is developing the appropriate data necessary to finance the project," he said. "Our consultants are excited about working with us and our lenders to show the commercial viability of our sites."

Barba said Montana Wind Harness will develop three large scale wind sites in Montana once the Public Service Commission approves a pending default supply rate case. He said the company plans to close bank financing this summer and begin construction in the fall.

For more information, call Doug Barba at (508) 661-2238.

NorthWestern Energy Posts Net Metering Documents
Northwestern Energy has issued its net-metering policy documents, officially called "Interconnection Agreement for Customer-Owned, Grid-Connected Electric Generating Facilities of 50 Kilowatts or Less Peak Generating Capacity." The nine-page document also includes pages spelling out the utility's net metering requirements for grid connection of renewable resources. In brief, a net metering system is one that:

1. Uses as its fuel renewable resources: defined to be solar, wind or hydropower, or other generation system pre-approved by the utility.
2. Has a generating capacity of not more than 50 (fifty) kilowatts.
3. Is located on the customer-generator's premises.
4. Operates in parallel with the NWE distribution system.
5. Is intended primarily to offset part or all of the customer-generator's requirements for electricity at the specific site where the generation is installed.

NWE Net Metering Policy (44KB PDF)


Bozeman Students Discover Solar Power
By Gail Schontzler
Bozeman Chronicle
Zach Zier placed what looked like a robotic beetle on a sunny table and pretty soon it began herking and jerking around, a real-life demonstration of solar power in action. Read the entire story in the Bozeman Chronicle:


Alternative Energy Income Tax Break Goes into Effect This Year
Montanans who install alternative energy systems (solar or wind, for example) on their homes this year should be aware of a Montana income tax credit they can apply for with their 2001 return.

Residents who install energy systems "using a recognized non-fossil form of energy generation" (as defined in 15-32-102), in their principal dwelling after December 31, 2001, are entitled to claim a tax credit in an amount equal to the cost of the system, including installation costs, less grants received, up to $500. The credit is spelled out in Montana Codes Annotated 15-32-201.

Other energy tax breaks are already available. Below is a list of downloadable forms for those credits from the Montana Department of Revenue website:

Whitehall Group Requests Review of Wind Power Bids
Montana Standard
State Bureau
HELENA - The state Public Service Commission should re-evaluate the finalists that bid for the wind power portion of the NorthWestern Energy contracts, the Jefferson Local Development Corp. said Monday. "This would be best for Montana ratepayers
and getting the best deal for ratepayers is the Public Service Commission's job," said Scott Mendenhall, manager of the Whitehall-based economic development group. Read the story in The Montana Standard:


A summary of the Farm Bill, or Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, as it is officially titled, can be found at: http://www.elpc.org/energy/farmbillfinalmay02.php

Electronic News Sheets Deliver Green Energy Updates
Want to keep informed about renewable energy? Try these electronic newsletters that bring the latest green energy news to your desktop:

Green Power and Market Research News

Randy Manion of the Western Area Power Administration tracks green power issues for the Western Area Power Administration and publishes this bi-weekly compendium on line.

Here are headlines from a few articles in a recent newsletter:

  • NACECGreen Mountain Power and Clean Air - Cool Planet Team Up
  • Shell completes acquisition of Siemens Solar
  • ECD Installs BIPV Array at SFO
  • Vestas Receives Major Wind Turbine Order
  • More Warming to Use of Geothermal Heating

To access the latest newsletter, use the following web link: http://www.es.wapa.gov/renew/green/wapa050602.htm

Previous editions of Western's Green Power and Market Research News are available at: http://www.es.wapa.gov/renew/green_power_past.cfm

PV4You Newsletter
Going Solar Newsletter
MSR Newsletter
Interstate Renewable Energy Council's PV4You, Going Solar and MSR (Million Solar Roofs) newsletters feature the latest solar energy news compiled by Jane Pulaski of Going Solar. Many items in the combined newsletters are posted on the IREC home page or IREC's Community Outreach site: www.irecusa.org. Send comments and news to Jane Pulaski at [email protected]

Interconnection Newsletter

The Interconnection Newsletter, compiled by Stephen S. Kalland, associate director of the North Carolina Solar Center, is published electronically every month by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. It features national news, news from the states, international news, the latest on product type (testing and certification), references to publications, people news and an events calendar. To subscribe, go to the IREC Connecting to the Grid website and fill in the subscription form, then click on "subscribe." There is no fee for subscriptions.

Village Power News!
Julie Cardinal of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory gathers and organizes news items for a smaller audience in Village Power News! A recent issue featured a news bullet on a radio interview with NREL wind expert Larry Flowers on "Native Americans and Village Power" and links to the interview in real audio.

To receive this newsletter, fill out the Village Power Newsletter registration form: http://www.rsvp.nrel.gov/reg_vpn.asp

EnergyAg NewsBriefs
EnergyAg NewsBriefs is a "current awareness service" of the Energy Ideas Clearinghouse Library, and the Energy Information Clearinghouse Library. Companies or agencies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana or Wyoming, can find out what the Energy Ideas Clearinghouse can do for them by contacting www.energyideas.org. Companies and agencies in other western states (served by Western Area Power Administration) can contact the Energy Information Clearinghouse at www.es.wapa.gov.

Services offered through both Clearinghouses include a technical research library, energy engineers, and top-notch customer service specialists. You can also access information by searching the Energy Solutions Database: www.energyideas.org or www.es.wapa.gov/energy_solutions.

The service is sponsored by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and the Western Area Power Administration.

The Oklahoma WinCharger
Kylah Kissinger, a student assistant at the University of Oklahoma, edits the Oklahoma WinCharger, a newsletter of the Oklahoma Wind Power Assessment Initiative. Topics addressed in the May edition include:

  • Highlights from the recent 2002 Wind and Bioenergy conference
  • U.S. Senate passes an Energy bill with RPS Intact
  • GE purchases Enron Wind
  • Flat rate plans available for wind generated electricity

The May edition of the newsletter and an archive of past issues can be found here: http://www.seic.okstate.edu/owpai/landownr/landownr.htm

Wind Working Group Sets June Summit
Transmission issues, utility integration, net metering and state policies are among the topics to be discussed at a summit of the State Wind Working Group on Thursday, June 6, in Portland, Ore. The meeting will follow WINDPOWER 2002, hosted by the American Wind Energy Association. WINDPOWER is the largest wind energy conference in North America. The summit at the Double Tree Inn Lloyd Center will include a technical and state policy issues roundtable moderated by Larry Flowers of the U.S. Department of Energy, an education and outreach roundtable, reports from wind working groups and a planning session.


Opinion: Find a Better Way to Power the Nation
Nancy Brockway and Ann Stewart
Denver Business Journal
From the Denver Business Journal: "Recently, Wayne Brunetti, CEO of Xcel Energy, criticized efforts by renewable energy advocates to encourage the implementation of a national renewable energy portfolio standard ("Xcel shareholders nix renewable resource proposal," Denver Business Journal's daily Web edition, April 18). This standard, popularly known as an RPS, would require electric utilities to obtain a percentage of their energy from wind, small hydro, geothermal, biomass, solar and other renewable resources. Right now, Washington is debating the inclusion of a national RPS in the energy legislation pending before Congress. "I think it's horrible. The price tag of it is horrendous," Mr. Brunetti has said. But there's another side to this story. More...

It is evident that the fortunes of the world's human population, for better or for worse, are inextricably interrelated with the use that is made of energy resources. 
M. King Hubbert, Resources and Man, 1969

The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 2002

If You Can Run on Grease and Alcohol, So Can Your Car!
Solar, Wind Projects Add 130 Kilowatts of New Capacity
Find Tips for Saving Energy in New DEQ Guidebook
Energy from the Sun PV's in Montana Habitat Homes

Zero Energy Home Concept Introduced at Home Show
What's the Forecast for Solar Power in the United States?
Farmers Feel Winds of Change Renewing the Countryside
Security Experts Say Energy Efficiency Key to Security
Farms Aren't Just for Food Anymore
Utah Becomes 36th State to Offer Net Metering
In the Northwest: Wind Power More Realistic Than 'Exotic'


If You Can Run on Grease and Alcohol, So Can Your Car!
That intriguing prospect is explained on the home page of the Associated Students of the University of Montana Transportation website. Visit the site for more information on ASUM's Bio-Bus, which runs on biodiesel, an alternative fuel that contains: 80-90% vegetable oil; 10-20% alcohol; and 0.35-1.5% catalyst

Sustainable Systems LLC d/b/a Montana Biodiesel makes the fuel from waste vegetable oil (WVO) from fryers at the University Center and the Lommasson Center. The chemical reaction for making the fuel is called "transesterification." Montana Biodiesel combines the WVO with a sodium hydroxide and methanol mixture to produce methyl esters or biodiesel. It's a local business and all the fuel is made right there in Missoula. For more information, download the company profile: 

Sustainable Systems LLC d/b/a Montana Biodiesel (30KB PDF)

Solar, Wind Projects Add 130 Kilowatts of New Capacity
More Montanans will use the power of the sun and wind in 2002 to generate their own electricity through a pair of renewable energy projects funded by NorthWestern Energy customers. On April 26, twenty-one homeowners from Missoula to Lavina and Great Falls to Absarokee received word they were chosen to participate in either a solar electric or wind electric demonstration program administered by the National Center for Appropriate Technology on behalf of the utility. Of those, nine will receive solar electric (or photovoltaic) systems ranging in size from 1200 watts to 3900 watts. Thirteen others will get wind electric systems ranging in size from under 1 kilowatt (0.9kw) to 10 kilowatts.

Find Tips for Saving Energy in New DEQ Guidebook
Montanans have a choice of spending money to improve the energy efficiency of their homes or paying more for the energy they waste. This choice will become even more important as energy costs inevitably rise. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has published Montana Energy Saver's Guidebook to help homeowners save money and energy right now. The booklet includes sections on knowing where your energy dollars go, setting back thermostats, sealing air leaks, adding insulation, replacing appliances, choosing efficient lighting and selecting a contractor. You can visit the DEQ website to download your own copy of the guidebook:

Montana Energy Saver's Guidebook (1.6MB PDF)

Energy from the Sun - PV's in Montana Habitat Homes
Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Montana, serving Butte and Southwest Montana, is the first Habitat for Humanity affiliate in the nation to send Habitat-generated power from photovoltaic (PV) energy into the grid, saving the Habitat family money while producing renewable energy to help meet future electrical demands for themselves and their neighbors. Habitat says its High Performance Housing Partnership the HP2 program has resulted in homes that use 40 to 50 percent less energy than homes built to current codes, with heating costs in Montana of under $250 a year. "These homes are the best candidates for use of solar-generated electric energy, to cover 50 to 100 percent of the electrical load experienced by very low income families," according to Habitat's website.

Habitat For Humanity
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian housing organization. Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 100,000 houses in more than 80 countries, including some 30,000 houses across the United States. Habitat houses are purchased by the homeowner families.


Zero Energy Home Concept Introduced at Home Show
The idea of a "Zero Energy Home" has been floating around the country for some time now, but it took the Washington State Net Metering Law, and some of the WesternSUN Utilities to start the ball rolling. Zero Energy Homes got their first introduction to the Northwest Public at the WesternSUN booth at the Seattle Home show. http://www.westernsun.org/aamembers.html

What's the Forecast for Solar Power in the United States?
By Will McNamara
(Reprinted with permission of SCIENTECH)
SPECIAL NOTICE: The U.S. Senate defeated 54 to 46 an amendment
to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. Here's an IssueAlert analysis of the impact that this decision will have on the energy industry.
[News item from Associated Press] Hoping to reduce demand on California's energy system, officials have chosen Los Angeles as the city in which to place the nation's largest solar-panel system atop a government building. The low-maintenance solar panels were unveiled April 12 at the U.S. Postal Service processing plant 11 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The Postal Service's 127-kilowatt system, built and installed by PowerLight Corp. of Berkeley, is the size of a football field and believed to be the largest such structure ever placed on a federal building, officials said. It is expected to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent during peak hours. More...

SCIENTECH provides a free analysis of each day's most critical issue in the energy industry. Register for a free IssueAlert

Farmers Feel Winds of Change Renewing the Countryside
Minnesota Countryside
From one perspective, Richard and Roger Kas of Woodstock, Minn., are typical Midwestern farmers who grew up farming the family land with their father, William. But this family has something unmistakably unique taking place on their farm: they are farming the wind. With over 17 modern wind turbines on their land, they generate enough electricity to power 4300 households, and with two more turbines in the works, they are convinced they are riding the winds of change. What is more unique is that the Kas brothers will own these two new commercial-scale wind turbines. This is the first project of its kind in Minnesota, and possibly in the entire Midwest. More... 

National Security Experts: Energy Efficiency 
Key to Energy, National Security
The Alliance to Save Energy has posted a letter to Senate and House leaders signed by former CIA director James Woolsey, Admiral Thomas Moorer (Ret), and President Reagan's National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane. The letter says, "Our dependence [on oil] takes us places and forces us to do things that are not always in American's national interests." They call for increased efficiency to promote national security. Read the letter on the Alliance to Save Energy website.

A net metering measure, HB 7, has passed both chambers in Utah Legislature on March 14 and was signed into law by Governor Mike Levitt on March 15. This law requires utilities to make a net metering program available to customers with fuel cells or solar, wind or small hydropower systems with a generating capacity of up to 25 kilowatts. The successful passage of the Utah net metering law leaves Colorado as the only state in the West that does not require its electrical utilities to offer a net-metering program. Thirty-six states nationwide have some form of net metering available to consumers today. More ...

In the Northwest: Wind Power More Realistic Than 'Exotic'
Friday, April 5, 2002
By Joel Connelly
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Columnist
WALLA WALLA - Nuclear plant builders at Hanford used to sniff with condescension at alternative energy sources, referring to solar and wind power as "exotics" - as if a solar panel or windmill were a half-clad Parisian dancer of the 1920s. More... 

[email protected]. Please forward the newsletter to others who may be interested in renewable energy in Montana.

If you want to remove yourself from this mailing list, please send an e-mail to <[email protected]> with the following command in the body of your email message:

unsubscribe montanagreenpower

If you ever need to get in contact with the owner of the list, if you have trouble unsubscribing or if you have questions about the list itself, send email to:

<[email protected]>.


"To make an apple pie from scratch, we must first invent the universe." 
Carl Sagan