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2024 Montana Primary elections

Judge Rules Against Montana Agency For Underpaying Wind Farm

Windmills in a grassy field

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — For the third time this year, a court has ruled that Montana's Public Service Commission has ignored energy law in setting prices for a wind or solar farm.

District Judge Kathy Seeley ruled the commission underpaid Caithness Beaver Creek for electricity it was scheduled to sell to the state’s largest monopoly utility NorthWestern Energy as part of a proposed $500 million wind and battery storage project, the Billings Gazette reported Wednesday.

The Caithness Beaver Creek project was scheduled to become the first renewable energy development in the state with battery storage. That would have made it possible for the wind farm to provide energy even when the wind isn't blowing.

The Public Service Commission’s staff attorney, Lucas Hamilton, said the commission is still in the process of reviewing the judge's order.

"Staff will eventually make a recommendation to the Commission, but as of now, the Commission has not made a decision," Hamilton said.

Caithness Beaver Creek's president, Ross Ain, said he is confident the project would continue despite delays and the cost of the lawsuit.

“The project is very much viable," Ain said. "We’re very interested in it. We have the land under lease. We have the interconnect we’ve spent millions of dollars on and we would very much like to go forward."

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