A company proposing a new wind farm near Martinsdale has agreed to sell electricity to NorthWestern Energy after state regulators lowered the price NorthWestern would have to pay.
Federal law requires utility companies like NorthWestern to buy power from small renewable energy projects at the price it would cost the utility company to generate it or buy it from somewhere else.
New Colony Wind estimated that NorthWestern would have to spend about $43 per megawatt hour to produce the electricity generated by their wind farm. Northwestern estimated it would cost about $14 per megawatt hour.
The communications director for the Montana Public Service Commision Chris Puyear says calculating that cost can be complicated, so it’s not surprising that the two companies didn’t come up with the same number.
"The way that I think about that $43 number is that’s kind of New Colony’s opening bid," he said.
When the two companies couldn’t agree, the Montana Public Service Commision set a price somewhere in the middle. Both companies accepted a price of just over $23 per megawatt hour.
The New Colony Wind farm would produce enough electricity to power 6,900 homes.