Tim MacDonald Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Montana Sen. Max Baucus announced the release of $72 million in federal funds designed to fund wind energy projects to 32 communities and counties across the eastern part of the state on Friday, included are four Hi-line counties and four communities. The money, in the form of zero-interest Clean Energy Renewable Bonds will fund wind turbines in Hill which will produce 2. 0 megawatts of electrical energy. Hill County will receive $1,788,465 in bonding. Liberty, Chouteau and Blaine counties each will receive $902,895 to erect wind farms generating 1.0 megawatts of power. One megawatt is enough power to provide electricity to about 350 homes. The towns of Chester, Chinook, Big Sandy and Harlem will each receive bonding of $459,848 to build wind generators providing 0.5 megawatt of power. “We did not expect to receive the good news of the approval of Liberty County’s application so soon,” Liberty County Commission Chairman Don Marble said. “Our county, being a rural eastern Montana county should benefit very much from the installation of a turbine that will provide power and income for our community.” “The winds of today create the good-paying jobs of tomorrow,” Baucus said at a Billings news conference Friday. “This is about harnessing the wind, a clean renewable resource, to help us get more energy independent while powering our homes, Main Streets and businesses. The other counties receiving funding include Sweet Grass and Park, each getting $1,788,465 to fund two-megawatt plants; and Carbon, Big Horn, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Meagher, Musselshell, Pondera and Wheatland each of which will receive $902,895 for 1.0 MW generators. Other Montana communities funded by the bonds are Hardin, receiving $1,788,465 for a twomegwatt project; Livingston receiving $1,346,468 for a 1.5- megawatt generator; Big Timber, Columbus, Harlowton and Lewistown will get $902,895 for one-megawatt projects and Conrad, Lavina, Red Lodge, Roundup, Ryegate, Stanford and Three Forks will each receive $459,848 for 0.5 MW projects. The way the bond process works is that the zero-interest bonds are purchased by buyers much like municipal bonds. The incentive for buying them is that the purchaser does not have to pay income tax on the money invested, according to Hill County Commissioner Mike Anderson. “The amount we could receive was based on our power bills for all our county buildings,” Anderson said. “That set how much money we could apply for.” County buildings include the Courthouse and Courthouse Annex; The Sheriff’s office and Detention Center and road maintenance shops in Rudyard and Havre. The electricity is sold to the Northwest Energy electrical grid and the amount of energy over and above what is used is applied to pay off the bond. When it is paid off all proceeds from the energy sales go to the county. To finish the bonding process the state legislature has to agree to the bonding process. “They are not providing any funding, this is just to enable us to accept the money, so it might be a little premature to say this is a done deal,” Commissioner Doug Kaercher said.