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Developer NaturEner has announced that the Rim Rock Wind Farm, located near Kevin, Mont., has entered commercial operation.

The 189 MW project comprises 126 Acciona AW77 1.5 MW wind turbines. It is the third project completed by NaturEner in north central Montana.

In order to minimize the impact of the project on nearby nesting raptor habitat, NaturEner relocated 25 turbines on the east side of the project site. This effort was executed after the project design was finalized and construction had already started, and was the direct result of the well documented and supported consultation provided to NaturEner by Montana Audubon, the developer explains.

The wind farm was completed before the end of 2012 in order to ensure that it qualified for the production tax credit, as well as enable investment, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, from its tax-equity partner, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).

The Rim Rock project will also leverage NaturEner’s ability to operate and manage intermittent generation sources through the newly certified NaturEner Wind Watch Balancing Authority, the second wind-only balancing authority certified for operation in the U.S., the company explains.

The NaturEner Operations Center, based out of San Francisco, recently upgraded its operations capabilities, including those for its other wind-only certified balancing authority, NaturEner Power Watch, to facilitate the integration of the new Rim Rock project and to ensure a robust and consistent supply of power to the Western Interconnection.

The power from the Rim Rock project will be sold to Morgan Stanley Capital Group through a power purchase agreement, and the environmental attributes will be sold, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, to SDG&E so that the utility can comply with California’s renewable portfolio standard.

Upon completion of construction of the transmission line, power generated by the project will be distributed by the Montana Alberta Tie Line. NaturEner has contracted on a long-term basis for the entire northbound capacity of that transmission line.


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