Basin Electric Power Cooperative and clean-energy developer Clenera Renewable Energy on June 18 signed a 15-year power purchase agreement for Cabin Creek, a proposed 150 MW solar project.

The Cabin Creek proposal consists of two 75 MW sites near Baker, Mont., on the state's border with North Dakota. The projects are slated to come on line in 2023, with a 35-year life expectancy.

"Adding solar further promotes our all-of-the-above energy solution as we generate energy using a diverse resource portfolio including coal, natural gas, and other renewable resources to provide reliable, affordable, and environmentally safe generation," Basin Electric CEO and general manager Paul Sukut said in a news release.

The power-purchase cost is below $30/MWh, though it will vary by co-op utility, according to news reports.

Basin Electric has 141 member cooperatives serving 3 million customers across 550,000 square miles in nine states, mostly in the Midwest.

Eighteen of Montana's 25 electric cooperatives belong to Basin Electric and will receive power from Cabin Creek. The project will be sited in the service territory of Basin Electric member Southeast Electric Cooperative, which is headquartered in Ekalaka, Mont.

Clenera is locked in a fight over PURPA contract terms with NorthWestern Energy for a solar QF development, Apex Solar, in Dillon, Mont.

In November, Clenera asked the Montana PSC to settle the matter [2019.11.091].

Initially, the Boise-based developer planned to build two 80 MW solar facilities. However, in January, Clenera killed the second development, Apex Solar II.

In its initial petition, Clenera asked commissioners to approve 25-year contracts with $3/MWh carbon adders for each project. The company asked to set avoided costs of $41.07/MWh for Apex Solar and $39.31/MWh for Apex Solar II.

The developer hoped to start commercial operations Dec. 1, 2021. Construction likely will take eight to 12 months, McKee told Clearing Up in 2019.

The PSC on June 22 committed to issuing a final order in the docket by the end of September.

Contributing Editor

Dan has covered stories from Seattle to Tbilisi; spent time with the AP, Everett Daily Herald and Christian Science Monitor; and was twice a member of a team nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He and his wife have three young children and live in Seattle.