Montana company makes move to drive wind energy market in region

Montana-based company Grasslands Renewable Energy will be working with the Western Area Power Administration on the Wind Spirit Transmission Project, part of the newly created Transmission Infrastructure Program.   The Transmission Infrastructure Program is part of the energy infrastructure projects currently being supported by funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Under ARRA the Western Area Power Administration was granted borrowing authority of $3.25 billion to develop transmission systems for renewable energy in the United States.  The Wind Spirit Project proposes using some of that funding for a series of integrated, interconnected transmission lines going out from Montana to other markets. These lines will enable the development and export of a minimum of 3000 MW, or about 23 new wind farms of energy.

Going forward, Grasslands will work with the Western Area Power Administration to examine ways that renewable energy resources in Montana can be included in the regional transmission grid.  Grasslands was chosen from over 100 projects which were submitted as the result of an RFI from the Western Area Power Administration.

Grasslands will also be developing three separate 230 kv AC lines designed to connect Montana with markets in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Wyoming.  “This is great news for our state,” said Governor Brian Schweitzer. “Montana can and will lead the nation in wind energy development but we need new and expanded transmission systems. The agreement with Grasslands and Western is an important step in the right direction to build needed new transmission and illustrates a clear dedication of the federal government to develop American energy resources.”

The Western Area Power Administration is currently tasked with marketing and delivering cost-based hydroelectric power and related services within a 15 state region in the western US.  The area serviced by the administration includes the Great Plains, Rockies, Southwest and Sierra Nevada regions.

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