Development of Montana’s First Community-Owned Wind Project Starts

National Wind, working with area ranchers and Montana Wind Resources LLC, has formed Judith Highlands Energy LLC, which plans to develop more than 500 megawatts (MW) of community-owned wind projects in the central-Montana counties of Judith Basin, Wheatland, Golden Valley, and Fergus.

Currently, the project incorporates over 50,000 acres, almost all the land needed to develop the wind farm’s first phase. Judith Highlands Energy is expected to be developed in multiple 100+ megawatt phases over the next 5 to 8 years.

A local board of advisors, consisting of participating community members, is in the process of formation. Regular meetings between National Wind, Montana Wind Resources and the board of advisors will be held to ensure the project is meeting the community’s needs.

A 2009 Harvard study suggests that Montana is second only to Texas with the country’s greatest wind potential. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America Program has reported that 1,000 MW of installed wind capacity in Montana could add $1.2 billion in cumulative economic benefits.

Judith Highlands Energy’s development team has executed two leases for on-site meteorological equipment installation. The met towers are scheduled to be installed within the next 30 days. One year of on-site wind analysis is needed to effectively determine the best spots for wind turbine placement.

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