Analysts see Montana wind farm benefits for school trust lands

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A southeast Montana wind farm would generate more than $700,000 for Montana schools over the next three decades, according the Department Natural Resources and Conservation.

Clearwater Wind, a sprawling 150,000-acre development slated to begin construction this summer, would include 11 wind turbines on school trust land, for which the state would receive $770,400 in lease payments over 35 years, with more money to come from energy royalties.

“The projected income could be well over $700,00,” said Cory Shaw, DNRC property management section supervisor. 

The state share of the project area is about 4,500 acres. Power generated from state land would produce additional payments, the amount of which is still uncalculated. 

A DNRC analysis of Clearwater Wind concluded that a lease for the turbines would more than double the current revenue from the land, which already generates about $36,400 a year from cattle grazing. The wind turbines and the cows would share space after the construction.

NextEra estimates taxes paid on the wind farm will be $217 million over the 30-year life of the southeast Montana project 22 miles

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