Northwestern Energy is considering building a natural gas fired electrical generating plant adjacent to the Mill Creek substation near Anaconda. They are considering a plant in the 120 to 220 MW range, which would help stabilize their existing power lines and firm up the power produced by wind generation. If the plant is built, construction will probably begin in 2009, with a completion date of 2010. It is expected to cost more than $100 million, and employ 10 full-time workers after construction is complete.Northwestern has also retained the service of Credit Suisse to evaluate their “strategic options” with regard to their stake in the Colstrip 4 plant. Northwestern leased this power until 2007, when they purchased 222 MW outright. Approximately 40% of this power is used in Montana, with another 40% shipped to the Seattle area. The Montana Consumer Council believes that Northwestern violated the terms of the 2004 agreement that brought the company out of bankruptcy when they purchased this power without first receiving permission from the Montana Public Service Commission.
The Heartland Institute recently hosted the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, subtitled “Global Warming is Not A Crisis.” The intent of the conference was clearly aimed at debunking the “myth” of global warming.
With presentations like “Oceans, Not Carbon Dioxide, Are Driving Climate” by William Gray, and “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate” by S. Fred Singer, the conference was cleverly designed to downplay the impacts that industrial emissions are having on our climate. Singer, a George Mason University professor who has long railed against “junk science” showing tobacco smoke causes lung cancer, and sun exposure causes melanoma, is now intent on proving humans are not responsible for climate change. “Most climate change is natural,” he contends. The human contribution is not significant. Therefore, climate change is unstoppable.” In other words, Don’t Worry. Be happy.
For more information on the sponsorship of this conference by large tobacco and oil companies, see http://www.prwatch.org/node/7072. A list of the sponsors of this conference (mostly industry front groups with innocuous sounding names) can be found at: http://www.heartland.org.
Tax time is here, and many folks don’t realize that there are federal and state tax credits available for energy conservation projects and the production of renewable energy. The Federal government has a tax credit for businesses that install solar, wind, microturbines, or fuel cells. This credit is due to drop to 10% by the end of this year, but currently the credit is set at 30% to encourage the installation of solar, wind, and fuel cells. More information can be found at www.energy.gov/taxbreaks.htm
The Montana Department of Revenue offers incentives for individuals and corporations. Individuals can get an income tax credit worth 25% of their investment in qualifying renewable energy projects for their home or other building, up to $500. Individuals can also qualify for an Alternative Energy Systems Credit for installing solar panels, windmills, pellet stoves, biomass generators, or other forms of renewable energy. Both individuals and corporations can qualify for tax credits for converting a vehicle to alternate fuels, crushing oilseeds, production and blending of biofuels and a number of other activities that may save energy. There is even a tax credit for equipment used to manufacture materials from recycled goods. While most of the above credits apply to income tax, there is a property tax exemption for the installation of non-fossil fuel generating systems in homes and businesses. More information can be found at www.mt.gov/revenue/energyconservation. For information on other states, check out the Database of state incentives for renewable energy at www.dsireusa.org.