County commissioners approved a tax abatement worth millions of dollars annually for a proposed wind farm in Rosebud County, Mont.
Orion Renewable Energy Group wants to build a 120-turbine wind facility about 60 miles north of the Colstrip power plant that spills into neighboring Custer and Garfield counties, where Orion Renewable could request similar property tax exemptions.
Construction is slated to start as early as 2020, Orion Renewable VP Ryan McGraw told Clearing Up.
“There is no firm start date for construction or commercial operations,” he said.
The Oakland, Calif.-based company does not have a contract yet to sell the proposed development’s output, but is one of several major Montana wind development proposals that could benefit from transmission capacity freed up by closure of Colstrip units 1 and 2 (CU No. 1913 ).
The commissioners approved the 50 percent tax abatement in a 2-0 vote on Sept. 5. Commissioner Robert Lee abstained, citing a conflict of interest, the Billings Gazette reported.
The tax break “will materially enhance our prospects for success, increasing the chances that a wind project will be sited in Montana, using excess transmission capacity available on the Colstrip system, instead of in Oregon or Washington,” McGraw said, according to the Gazette.
Colstrip City Council officially opposed the tax abatement, though did not take issue with the wind farm.
Orion previously developed the Biglow Canyon wind farm in Oregon, which Portland General Electric acquired (CU No. 1232 ).