Great Northern Power Development L.P. (GNPD) and Kiewit Mining Group (KMG) announced their intention to proceed with a 500 MW linked coal and wind project in rural Eastern Montana.Denver, June 23, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The project would use lignite from an adjacent mine developed to exclusively serve the plant, and would provide low-cost and renewable power to in-state and Pacific NW customers. Since the project was initially announced on Nov. 12, 2001, GNPD and KMG have confirmed the project’s technical, environmental, and financial feasibility, thereby setting the stage for it’s development — with permit applications to be filed later this year. The project would take advantage of recent Montana legislation to encourage the development of in-state power projects. GNPD’s efforts have been encouraged by Montana Governor Judy Martz’s Offices and a new grassroots organization for regional economic development: Montanans for Responsible Energy Development (MRED). The project would stimulate the local economy and provide low-cost power to Montana customers. Linking coal and wind provides unique advantages to the project: coal can support the necessary upgrades to the transmission grid that would otherwise be difficult for wind to justify, while wind can improve the environmental performance of the project. The linkage of coal and wind would position the project to offer what the companies call environmentally responsible, low-cost, stable-priced power that will successfully compete with existing and proposed power projects within the region. The project is expected to utilize circulating fluidized bed technology — an advanced “clean” coal technology that is in wide use in Europe and has been successfully operated in many states, including California, where environmental restrictions are unusually tight. The US$900 million project could result in the creation of 175 direct and 1,200 indirect jobs in this economically depressed region of Eastern Montana, as well as US$6 million per year in state and local tax revenues for the 40+-year life of the project, say the developers. It is expected to come online as soon as 2008, depending on transmission upgrades, customer commitments, and permitting — all of which are well underway. A key element of the project is linking the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and Northwestern Energy transmission systems and the upgrading of two existing transmission paths — thereby enhancing the reliability and stability of the region’s transmission grid.