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Montana Wind Basics


Economic Benefits

True Cost of Wind


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Real Benefits

Local farmers, county coffers, and state revenues. These are the real beneficiaries of locally produced, clean wind energy.

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Basic Facts About
Montana Wind Power

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Montana ranks 3rd in the US for potential wind energy generating capacity, with over 944,000 MW available for production.1 This much wind energy could produce more than 3.2 billion MWh of electricity, more than 210 times the state’s current electricity needs.2 For comparison, a typical coal power plant is 500 MW.

Wind power is a low cost, clean, and renewable option for Montanans and a crucial component of Montana’s economic future. The Judith Gap wind farm provides energy to Montana customers at a rate of $41.60/MWh3, while energy provided by PPL-MT contracts average $49.90/MWh.4

As of June 2010, Montana has 375 MW of wind energy online with more than 2,300 MW under active development.5

Wind energy development is a stable source of economic prosperity for the state and local Montana communities. On average, wind project owners pay between $2,000-$5,000 per MW to lease land from local landowners,6 $9,000 per MW to local counties, and $5,000 per MW to the state annually.7

The Glacier Wind (210 MW) and Judith Gap (140 MW) wind projects combined created more than 500 construction jobs, employ over 30 full-time staff, and pay over $5 million annually to local counties.

Montana faces significant constraints in available transmission capacity. Without adequate transmission, Montanans cannot benefit from the economic stability provided by long-term wind energy projects. In addition to the economic benefits of wind energy development, transmission line construction will bring thousands of family-wage jobs and tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue annually to the state.

December 27, 2010


1) US Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Wind Powering America: 80-Meter Wind Maps and Wind Resource Potential. February 2010. Available from: http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/wind_maps.asp#potential.
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2) American Wind Energy Association. Wind Energy Facts: Montana. June 2010.
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3) Montana Public Service Commission. Request for Data on Judith Gap Contract and Integration Costs.: PSC-001. January 9, 2007. The cost of $41.60/MWh is an all-in cost including integration costs, transmission, taxes and fees.
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4) Rosquist, Will. Montana Public Service Commission Staff. Report on PSC PURPA QF Avoided Cost Dockets: Presented to Montana Wind Working Group. Available from: http://deq.mt.gov/Energy/Renewable/WindWeb/WindWorkGroup/pdf/qfrates.pdf.
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5) American Wind Energy Association. Wind Energy Facts: Montana. June 2010.
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6) Costanti, Mike and Beltrone, Peggy. US Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Wind Energy Guide for County Commissioners. November, 2006. Available from: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy07osti/40403.pdf.

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7) Montana Department of Commerce. Personal communication..
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