Montana's Clean and Green energy bill signed into law in May is helping pave the way for the international Montana Alberta Tie Ltd (MATL), a $120 million transmission line that will connect electrical grids in Alberta and Montana before the end of next year. Capacity on the line is already full booked by wind project developers (Windpower Monthly, May 2006). Under the law, permanent tax rates for new transmission that brings clean power to market will drop from 12% of taxable value to 3%. The act also compensates landowners whose property is crossed by transmission lines by providing complete property tax abatements within 200 metres of the lines. "It's an essential component to ensure that our project becomes reality," says MATL's Bob Williams. "Not only does it make a significant difference on our current project, it also makes it more likely that we'll be able to build future projects that provide Montana wind projects and other suppliers access to additional markets." MATL, a 326 kilometre, 230 kV line with capacity of 300 MW in each direction, is still going through a complicated permitting process involving US and Canadian agencies, as well as regulators at state and province levels. "A comparable power line built in just one state or province would have one facility regulator," says Williams. "But we'll be enhancing the reliability both in the Montana and Alberta grids." Montana's Clean and Green bill also includes temporary tax breaks of 1.5% over 15 years for wind and other new clean energy facilities. Montana ranks fifth among states in wind energy potential and has 146 MW online.
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