KEVIN, Mont.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--NaturEner, a leading renewable energy producer, today announced that it is finalizing preparations to begin delivering energy over the newly commissioned Montana-Alberta Tie-Line (MATL) transmission line that runs between Great Falls, Montana and Lethbridge, Alberta. With MATL online, NaturEner will be able to deliver up to 189 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy from its Rim Rock wind farm located in Glacier and Toole counties in Montana, which is enough to power approximately 60,000 homes per year.
“We’re developing information that will improve the scientific community’s understanding of the interaction between eagles and wind farms, and I think that our work at Rim Rock will set a great example for wind power projects across the country”
As NaturEner reaches this milestone, it is also launching industry-leading wildlife conservation measures at the Rim Rock project to significantly reduce the already low risk of potential harm to eagles and other birds. These measures include the installation of innovative radar detection systems for eagles, and the positioning of trained avian biologists at different locations with the ability to immediately pause wind turbine operations, in coordination with NaturEner’s 24/7 real-time Operations Center, if there is even a slight risk of potential harm to an approaching eagle. NaturEner is also further developing the radar detection systems so that they can eventually be operated automatically and remotely once the systems are refined and adjusted to the topography and specific characteristics of the Rim Rock project.
NaturEner’s new conservation measures at Rim Rock come in addition to the extensive avian protection efforts it had previously implemented, including a five-year effort to study the habitat of local avian species, identify historic and active avian nests, and develop a comprehensive plan for designing, constructing, and operating the Project in a way that significantly reduces the already low likelihood of harm to wildlife. NaturEner had also previously relocated 25 of Rim Rock’s wind turbines, following consultation with Montana Audubon and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to more than approximately one half of a mile away from historic raptor sites to further protect more than 10 different raptor species.
“NaturEner is setting the standard for the development and operation of wind power projects in a way that helps protect eagles and other wildlife,” commented Dr. Joseph Platt, a Senior Ecologist at POWER Engineers who has extensive experience in the wind power industry. “I am excited by the additional comprehensive conservation measures that are being implemented at Rim Rock, which likely will significantly lower any potential risk that eagles could be harmed.”
NaturEner has hired a team of biological monitors to implement the conservation measures at the Project, led by its Senior Biologist, Cheryl Schweizer. “We’re developing information that will improve the scientific community’s understanding of the interaction between eagles and wind farms, and I think that our work at Rim Rock will set a great example for wind power projects across the country,” said Ms. Schweizer.
NaturEner’s commitment to protecting Montana’s wildlife habitats is an important aspect of the Company’s goal to work with local governments, communities, landowners and other stakeholders to harness sustainable energy resources and provide positive social, environmental and economic benefits. NaturEner is a significant contributor to the local and Montana economy as a result of investing over $875 million in the state. NaturEner also owns and operates the combined 210 MW Glacier Wind 1 & 2 projects. With a total installed generation capacity of 399 MW, NaturEner owns and operates approximately 62 percent of the existing wind power fleet in the state of Montana. After more than five years of operation, NaturEner’s projects have not harmed or killed any eagles.
“We are proud of our stewardship of the environment. We’ll continue to explore and deploy innovative new technologies that may further reduce the already low possibility that wildlife may be harmed,” said José M. Sánchez-Seara, President and CEO. “We’ve also been able to bring jobs and tax revenues to Montana communities, along with supporting the state’s commitment to be a leader in wind power development.”
NaturEner USA, LLC and its affiliate NaturEner Energy Canada Inc. are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Spain-based Grupo NaturEner, S.A. Together, they have developed renewable energy facilities in three different countries comprising mini-hydro, solar photovoltaic and utility-scale wind. NaturEner owns and operates the combined 210 MW Glacier Wind 1 & 2 projects, located near Ethridge, Montana and the 189 MW Rim Rock Wind project, located near Kevin, Montana. NaturEner manages and integrates the production from its Glacier and Rim Rock projects through its wind-only Balancing Authorities, operated from NaturEner’s Operations Center (NOC), a fully enabled, state-of-the-art, 24/7 facility. The NOC was developed for the purpose of supporting both commercial and operational functions for NaturEner’s operating projects and transmission assets, including all the northbound capacity on the MATL intertie which opens a new pathway between energy markets in the United States and Canada.