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

Montana Green Power

Your Guide to Renewable Energy in Montana

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.


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.

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, 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.

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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 -

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 (, 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.

SolarAccess ( 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.

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 -

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 ( "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:

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]>. 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.

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:

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:

Previous editions of Western's Green Power and Market Research News are available at:

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: 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:

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 Companies and agencies in other western states (served by Western Area Power Administration) can contact the Energy Information Clearinghouse at

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: or

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:

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.

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... 

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


Montana Green Power

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