Green energy buyer gets $31.7 million in federal funding for wind farms

Billings, MT, Dec. 7, 2006 — The Green Electricity Buying Cooperative (GEBCO) of Montana announced they have been awarded $31.7 million dollars in federal bond funding for the development of two Montana wind farms and that will produce about 20 megawatts of electrical power for Montanans.

The Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) were awarded under a provision of the 2005 US Energy Policy Act. $800 million will be awarded over the next two years to support small, clean energy projects, including a total of approximately $72 million in CREBs grants to Montana projects. The drive to expand funding for CREBs grants and to extend the grant awards through the end of 2007 was spearheaded by the combined efforts of Montana Senator Max Baucus and Iowa Senator Charles Grassley.

The two GEBCO wind farm projects will be placed on farms in McCone County and in rural Yellowstone County. These two projects, along with other Montana CREBs projects, will make it possible for many Montanans to buy either all or a part of their electricity from renewable energy produced in Montana, and will make it possible for local farmers and land owners to begin developing commercial energy production facilities as another cash “crop.”

Russ Doty, the executive director of GEBCO, said, “These bond grants open the door for everyday Montanans to get a piece of the green energy boom. GEBCO is going to produce Montana energy for Montanans. We expect that these farm projects will be the first of many new clean energy profit centers for struggling Montana farmers and land owners.”

Pat Dopler, board president of GEBCO, said the cooperative is accepting memberships now to help the board in the continued development of the project, and to show there is a market for clean energy in Montana. “When the projects begin production, members will have an opportunity to purchase power produced in Montana from a 100% renewable source,” said Dopler.

Doty said that Montanans can immediately begin participating in GEBCO’s efforts. He said that under Montana law any Montana residential customers of an investor-owned utility, such as Northwestern Energy or MDU, can become members of an electricity buying cooperative.

By developing locally owned energy sources, “the economic benefits of that green electricity can stay in the local economy, instead of profits being siphoned off by out-of-state wind-farm developers,” Doty said.

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