United States

United States

Utility sets short timeline -- Montana Power seeks 150 MW

The Montana Power Company wants to build its power supply portfolio and is on a short timeline to bring 150 MW of wind on-line, evidence that it is seeking experienced developers already well along in the siting process. Preference is given to projects in Montana, a state that has the sixth best wind resource in the US.

The Montana Power Company (MPC) wants to build its power supply portfolio and is on a short timeline to bring 150 MW of wind on-line, evidence that it is seeking experienced developers already well along in the siting process. "If the developer doesn't have a site and the transmission needs figured out by now, he probably won't be successful in this bid," says David Ryan of MPC. Bidders should already have good wind data and transmission, environmental and avian problems solved.

MPC released the 150 MW solicitation June 7 and wanted bids back by June 28. Ryan, who is also president of the Montana Renewable Energy Association, expects to sign one or more letters of intent some time this month for projects that must be completed by July 1, 2002. Preference is given to projects in Montana, a state that has the sixth best wind resource in the US. At least three developers have been working the state to develop sites. Ryan also expects to hear from some of the developers who submitted bids in the Bonneville Power Administration 1000 MW solicitation (Windpower Monthly, April 2001).

Montana's 1998 legislation deregulating the electric industry required MPC to sell its generating plants, but made distribution utilities, including MPC, default energy suppliers for retail customers. The utility sold its power plants to Pennsylvania Power & Light Co and buys enough electricity back from PP&L to fulfil its default commitments. Those contracts expire July 2002. This solicitation, along with other contracts, will fill the utility's default supply portfolio to 2007, although all contracts could go longer, Ryan says. MPC's current power supply mix is split between hydroelectric power and coal generation.

The same 1998 legislation also requires utilities to provide green products for customers. Ryan says MPC is working on such a program, but power from this solicitation will not form part of any future renewable energy offering. The company is working with the Blackfeet Tribes, SeaWest and BPA, however, to develop a 22-66 MW project in Glacier County (Windpower Monthly, June 2001).

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