Invenergy to enable wind farms with Montana transmission line finance

US: Chicago-based Invenergy Wind Development LLC has agreed to help finance development of a new Montana transmission line that would allow it to ship power from two planned wind farms to markets in the US Pacific Northwest.

The company has signed on as an anchor shipper on the Green Line, a project proposed by Toronto-based Tonbridge Power. The Canadian company is in the process of constructing a 214-mile, 300 MW transmission link between Lethbridge, Alberta and Great Falls, Montana known as the MATL line.

The 100-mile Green Line would effectively extend MATL south to interconnect with the Bonneville Power Administration's grid system via the 500KV Colstrip line, a major electricity highway that runs east to west out of Montana into the Pacific Northwest states. (Windpower Monthly, January 2010)

Mark Jacobson, director of business development for Invenergy, says the company was encouraged by Tonbridge's success in developing and financing MATL. "We hope that same development approach can be duplicated with the Green Line," he says.

Invenergy has reserved 350 MW on the Green Line, which it plans to use the capacity to transport the output of two wind farms the company is developing in north-central  Montana. "Our construction timeline will tied to the Green Line," says Jacobson. "If all permits and development activities are tracking then it will probably be around 2014."

Invenergy will invest in the development of the project, and although Jacobson would not say how much the company will contribute, he did say it will help pay a share of the engineering, routing, environmental and regulatory costs. Invenergy will get its development contributions back through contracted transmission tariff reductions in the future.

The agreement with Invenergy "really makes the commercial case" for the Green line, says Tonbridge CEO Johan van't Hof. Tonbridge signed a similar agreement last November with Irish wind developer Gaelectric, which will be allocated 500 MW of transfer capacity in return for investment in the development of the project.