Archived News

Wind, Water, Solar, Biofuels... Future "LENR"

Archived News
________________________

Major Minnesota utility quits Big Stone II Coal Fired Plant. MINNEAPOLIS - The utility leading an effort to build a $1.6 billion coal-fired power plant in South Dakota that would serve five states has pulled out of the project. Read full story

________________________

DEQ to host public meeting on air permit. (By Tribune Staff) The Montana Department of Environmental Quality will conduct a public meeting to answer questions on the draft air quality permit for Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Inc.'s proposed natural gas-fired power plant near Great Falls. The meeting will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sept. 23 in the Commission Chambers at the Great Falls Civic Center, 2 Park Drive S. The draft permit is available to view online at the DEQ Web site at www.deq.mt.gov. Written questions on the draft air quality permit and requests for copies should be directed to Brent Lignell, Montana DEQ, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620, 406-444-5311, or by e-mail at blignell@mt.gov. Comments will be accepted until Sept. 30.

________________________

City plans to write off some of its $2.3 million as losses from HGS investment. A city official said Monday evening the city is preparing to write off part of nearly $2.3 million it invested in the Highwood Generating Station 8 miles east of the city. "We don't know what the amount is yet," said Coleen Balzarini, executive director of Electric City Power and the city's fiscal services director, at a power board meeting at the Civic Center. Read full story

________________________

Appellants (local landowners) have filed their brief on the zoning case against the Cascade County and SME with the Montana Supreme Court. SME has 30 days to respond with their own brief. Read landowners brief

________________________

SME has until September 4, 2009 to meet new court ordered deadline. SME had previously asked for a two month extension to submit the required documentation to the court. Judge Phillipps concurred with the plaintiffs and has now ordered SME to meet the September 4th deadline. For additional information in this regard please read the previous story below entitled 'Judge reaffirms that city must turn over SME-related papers'. Read court order

________________________

Great Falls seeks public comment on Electric City Power. Cheryl Patton, Great Falls assistant City Manager, explained, "Consultants from Burns and McDonnell will sit and listen to comments that citizens might have about the city's involvement. They will take the information under advisement as part of the research that they're doing on this project." Read full story

________________________

Highwood coal option 'off the table'? Gregori described the request to have the permit revoked as a realignment of "our order of build-out" of generation, not necessarily the death of a coal-fired facility, although he acknowledged that construction would now require a new permit from the DEQ. Read full story
Press Release

________________________

Judge reaffirms that city must turn over SME-related papers. He also ruled that SME has until Aug. 14 to submit to the court a specific list of which portions of which documents it believes are protected from disclosure by state law, with specific rationale for each alleged secret in the document. Phillips gave SME some leeway on the Aug. 14 date, stating that because of the court's delay in releasing the order, the cooperative can seek a later deadline. Read full story

________________________

Is there a double standard at play here? Susan Overfield was forcefully removed and arrested for going over the time limit in her comments regarding the city takeover of the animal shelter. On the other hand, during a recent presentation, Mr. Stu Nicholson was told his time was up and continued talking, but was not removed even though he hand signaled his acknowledgment of the time limit. What's the difference? Answer: Nicholson is the mayor's buddy.....

Click this link to view the movie

Click for Tribune story

________________________

Candidate: Utility spending took dollars from police, fire. Donna M. Zook, one of seven candidates for two city commissioner seats in the Sept. 15 primary, told the Tribune this week that she has talked to more than two dozen city residents who are disillusioned or angry with the city. Zook said several residents repeated a contention that city spending on its Electric City Power utility arm and the proposed Highwood Generating Station power plant took money away from police and fire agencies. Read full story

________________________

The following post on "Cataract City Web Blog" is from Mr. Larry Rezentes in response to an attack levied against him by an anonymous commenter on July 10: "The accusation is a scurrilous and malicious attempt to malign me by those in, or allied with, city government, who object to my having brought to light the misrepresentations by those in city management and elected city officials, of the large losses sustained, and that continue to be sustained, by the city’s operation of Electric City Power; the cause of those losses; the questionable accounting used now to hide them; and of the city’s flagrant violation of Electric City Power’s founding ordinance. It is a retaliatory attack against me by such individuals in or allied with a city government that has abused its power, selectively applied and knowingly violated its own laws and harassed those, such as myself, who oppose its actions and the incompetence, misrepresentation, and illegality of its entry into and continued operation of Electric City Power, and its involvement in the Highwood Generating Station program. It follows other such attacks against me by the city, and those allied with its views". Read entire statement

________________________

Citizens Protest City Secrecy.
A local group of citizens concerned about the role of the City of Great Falls in the public power business made a silent protest Monday (7/13) because of what they say is unneccesary secrecy on behalf of the city. Members of Citizens for Clean Energy showed up at the Electric City Power meeting carrying black boxes they say represent information that the city is purposefully witholding from the public. The group says that includes financial records about the city's involvement in Electric City Power and the planned Highwood Generating Station, as well as staff communications. The city recently hired a consultant to study the viability of the city's contiuned involvement in the public power business. Citizens for Clean Energy say they hope that consultant will have access to the information that has been witheld from the public so they can make an informed decision. Watch video

________________________

What is going on at city hall? The proposal  below is from the law firm of Garlington Lohn Robinson, the second largest law firm in Montana. A 2007 letter to the Mountain Water Company in Missoula about their water rights. Missoula has about 62 water rights in all stages of legal perfecting - total is about 226 cfs and 132, 300 acre-feet/yr, which is significantly more than Missoula's historical usage. The legal advice (see page 24) is that Missoula should be able to keep all their water rights because "municipal water rights implicitly include the ability to expand use over time." Too bad our Great Falls City Commission couldn't be convinced of this before they gave away 60% of the city's historic water rights secured by our cities founders. Read full legal opinion

________________________

Mike Winters files to make run for Great Falls mayor. Winters, 71, said it would be a mistake to focus too much on the city's electric utility venture and the proposed Highwood Generating Station, which have been controversial. City Commissioner Bill Bronson and Sandra Guynn, a neighborhood council chairwoman, filed previously. Read full story

________________________

EPA declares health emergency in Libby. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the agency for the first time has determined there is a public health emergency in a contaminated community, targeting Libby for immediate federal attention. Jackson called Libby a "tragic public health situation" that has not received the recognition it deserves from the federal government for far too long. Read full story

________________________

Lower Natural-Gas Price Leaves Coal Out in Cold. A precipitous drop in the price of natural gas means lower bills for some electricity consumers but spells trouble for coal producers, long the dominant source of fuel for the electric-power industry. Read full story

________________________

Since the early 1970's, America's fossil fuel industries have viewed the Powder River Basin as the National Sacrifice Area, a place that could provide the dirty energy for our unquenchable thirst for electricity, natural gas, and oil. Since receiving this unofficial designation, the land, wildlife, water and people of the Powder River Basin have suffered tremendously.

Today, while the region is slated for new coal mines,coal to diesel plants, and massive coal bed methane development, a coalition is forming to turn the tide once again.

Join ranchers, environmentalists, sportsman, tribes, and concerned citizens at a gathering in Billings, Montana on June 18th to learn about the wide variety of threats facing Powder River Country.

http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=OX0rk1JpZllwgvynu6WgQ.

Our keynote speaker, Winona LaDuke, will address the true cost of our addiction to fossil fuels from the Powder River Basin.

Click here:
http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=BnXq95eiHDjrXCzUUMxZiw. to see the Summit's agenda - Come for a piece of it, or come for it all!

WHAT: The Powder River Basin Summit: A gathering for people concerned about the massive influx of fossil fuel development in the Powder River Basin.

WHEN: Thursday, June 18th Welcome Ceremony begins at 8:30am, Panels will run throughout the day, and the keynote address by Winona LaDuke will be at 5:30pm.

WHERE: The Billings Depot, 2310 Montana Ave, Billings, MT 59101 (Click here for a map.)

http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=KgHD6xOAYhMeXHOdheoruA.

QUESTIONS & MORE INFO: Contact me, Mike Scott, at
Mike.Scott@SierraClub.org or 406.839.3333.

This is an exciting event being held in our community, by our community. Don't miss it.

Click here for more information and to RSVP:
http://online.nwf.org/site/Calendar?view=Detail&id=102901&s_src=SierraClub.

Hope to see you there,
Mike Scott, Associate Regional Representative
Sierra Club, MT

____________________

Wal-Mart kicks off plastic recycling program. At a news conference Wednesday, Lance Lerud, manager of the Great Falls Wal-Mart store, said he did not know if this is the country's first Wal-Mart to take on the job of community plastics recycling. However, Lerud said the nation's largest retailer is making an effort to go green. "Just about anything we can recycle, we do," Lerud said.
But the store went a step further by offering to recycle certain plastic items for anyone who stops by with rinsed-out containers of plastic types 1 and 2, without the caps on.
Read full story

____________________

Citizens honored for Constitution work. McGrath, the state's top judge, said the product of the Con Con was a "modern" and "enlightened" legal document. "Thanks to these delegates it is perfectly adapted to Montana's role as the last best place," McGrath said. Read full story

____________________

U.S. Foresees Thinner Cushion for Coal. In the field, challenges are becoming more apparent. Mining companies report they have to dig deeper and move more earth to extract coal from aging mines, driving up costs. Utilities have grown skittish about whether suppliers can ship promised coal on time. American Electric Power Co., the nation's biggest coal buyer, says it has stepped up its due diligence to make sure its suppliers can make deliveries after some firms missed shipments last fall. Read full story

_____________________

Two more seek city commission seat. Two of the candidates who filed this week, Rolland Leitheiser and Ed McKnight, sat down with the Tribune for interviews Friday, and neither was highly complimentary to the sitting commission. Read full story

________________________

Donna May Zook files for city commission seat. "I'm a scientist," Zook said. "I have been trained in critical thinking." She holds doctoral degrees in plant pathology from the University of California at Riverside and clinical psychology from Alliant University in San Diego. Read full story
Click for her press release

________________________

City looking into hiring consultant for utility. City officials want a consultant to look at whether it's wise for the city to stay in the energy business, selling electricity to area businesses, public agencies and nonprofit groups. Read full story

________________________

Commissioners vote to cut fire-service fees to SME. Longtime foes of the plant suggested SME would not be so kind if the city asked to withdraw from its contract to buy electricity from cooperative. "Fire Chief Randy McCamley said the loss of nearly $250,000 per year in fees from SME would not cripple city efforts to hire 16 new firefighters for his department". (We need to remember his statement this August as we vote on new taxes for his department). Read full story

Something fishy here? The city collected contracted fire service and emergency response fees from SME for December 2008, January & February 2009, but failed to bill SME for October & November 2008. Remember HGS construction began at the site on October 15, 2008 so where are the contractual service fees for October & November 2008?

The funds that were paid in were supposed to be deposited in the Fire Department's operational budget for fire services and emergency responses, but somehow February's deposit was withheld two and half months until this May 19th city commission meeting contract rearrangement. Who authorized that procedure and where were the funds held for two and half months? We are talking about $23,000 for that month of February 2009. Not exactly petty cash funds to the taxpayers of this city.....

________________________

DEQ seeks more pollution data on gas-fired plant. The state Department of Environmental Quality wants more details on how a developer arrived at projected pollution emissions from a natural gas-fired power plant proposed east of Great Falls. Read full story

Read DEQ letter to SME

________________________

Gessaman files to run for spot on commission. The Riverview resident said she has attended City Commission meetings for three years, at times politely criticizing the city's energy ventures, including the proposed coal-fired Highwood Generating Station. Gessaman said that even though the planned power plant may switch to natural gas instead of coal, she still questions the proposed location of the plant eight miles east of Great Falls. Read full story

________________________

Co-ops carefully study plan for gas-fired plant. Tim Gregori, CEO and general manager of SME, the group of cooperatives involved in the Highwood project, said the decision to pursue the gas-fired project will be dictated more by results than timeframe. Read full story

________________________

Citing health reasons, Power Board member Gilbert resigns from ECP. "He did a great job," said fellow board member Bob Pancich. "He dug in and asked questions." Read full story

________________________

Coal Ash Piles Up. The accident at TVA's Kingston Plant is said to be 100 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 in which nearly 11 billions gallons of oil escaped. Read full story

________________________

Schweitzer nixes changes to renewable energy quotas. One would have allowed hydroelectric dam upgrades done since 2004 to qualify as renewable energy, a change that opponents said would destroy state requirements to purchase wind or solar energy. Read full story

________________________

State approves wind turbines by Martinsdale. The Martinsdale wind farm is the state's second involving school-trust land. Fifteen of the 90 turbines at the Judith Gap wind farm, which is located entirely in Wheatland County, are on state land. Read full story

________________________

Study: Jet fuel from oilseeds emits less greenhouse gas A new study says jet fuel made with the oilseed crop camelina could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 84 percent compared with jet fuel from petroleum. Read full story

________________________

SME applies for modified air permit. Brent Lignell, a DEQ environmental engineer who is processing the application, said SME has requested a condition that would preclude the simultaneous operation of a coal-fired boiler and gas plant which he said "would be emissions on top of emissions." "It would be one or the other, but not both," Gregori said. SME continues to evaluate the coal-fired power plant, Gregori said. Read full story

________________________

EPA to Propose Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency today plans to propose regulating greenhouse gas emissions on the grounds that these pollutants pose a danger to the public's health and welfare. Read full story

________________________

GOVERNOR PROPOSES AMENDMENTS TO HB 483. Today the Governor issued the attached letter asking the House and Senate to amend HB 483. Both houses will have to agree to these amendments for them to be incorporated into the bill. The Governor’s amendments are a significant improvement over the bill that was sent to him 10 days ago. While MEIC strongly disagrees that the process for appealing air and water pollution permits is broken, we agree that the changes proposed by the Governor are essential to ensuring Montanans’ right to protect their health, communities and property. If the Governor intends to sign this bill, his amendments ensure that the permit appeals process is not rigged toward the industry seeking a permit to pollute.

The permit appeals process is not broken. The public rarely appeals air and water pollution permits. But when appeals are filed by the public they almost always result in better public health protections and environmental safeguards. This bill creates a new process for those appeals. While the Governor’s amendments go along way toward fixing the fundamental flaws with the bill, the new language in the bill will still take years of litigation to interpret. That delay will not improve the process, it will only add unnecessary time and controversy to the appeals process.

Despite that fact, the 37 amendments proposed by the Governor are essential to improving a deeply flawed bill. The amendments would do the following:

• allow the public to appeal a permit because of changes in State law or changes made in the permit after the public comment period
• creates a more reasonable timeframe for the appeals process
• while the amendments to not eliminate the bonding provisions, they do temper the bonding provisions to clarify that reasonable appeals based in law or fact will not require bonding
• companies have to comply with the law that exists when the permit is filed, not just the laws as they were when the permit application is submitted
• clarifies that both parties can elect to go to district court and avoid the board of environmental review, not just the permit applicant
• maintains the timeframe for the public to file an appeal of a permit at 30 days instead of the proposed 15 days
• prohibits the state from perpetually allowing a company to hold on to a permit without proceeding with construction

Read governor tames HB 483

Read Governor amended HB 483

________________________

Kansas: Governor’s veto of coal bill stands “We have always known that we will someday face the fact that fossil fuels are a finite resource,” said Rep. Joshua Svaty, an Ellsworth Democrat who vote against overriding the veto. “The state of Kansas can do better.” Read full story

________________________

Beartooth Electric Co-op members eye money trail, petition. Where did the money come from and where has it gone?Larry Luloff, a Beartooth Electric Co-op member, raised those questions during a citizen-organized meeting in Joliet on Saturday. The gathering was held to address concerns related to Beartooth's recent rate increases, its governance and the direction it will take for its electricity needs. According to Luloff, reports estimate that as much as $41 million has been spent in developing the Highwood Generation Station in Great Falls. Yet, he can only account for $16 million coming from the member co-ops. "Where did the other $25 million come from that we spent?" he asked. Read full story

________________________

Tribune photo/KIM SKORNOGOSKi

Touting the benefits of biofuel. Earl and Fisher said state grants and loans helped provide seed money to buy equipment. But they attribute their success to the fact that the two men invested their own money and relied on their knowledge of the oil and agriculture industries. They started small — the Chester plant has a capacity of 275,000 gallons a year. Their plan is to build several similar plants around the state, buying grain from local farmers and selling fuel to those same people. Read full story

________________________

What next?
The entrance to the Highwood Generating Station construction site office building and access roads is fenced with barbed wire and chained shut Thursday April 9, 2009. Read full story

Tribune photo/Ryan Hall

______________________

Power co-op in 10-year electricity deal. John Prinkki, president of the board of Beartooth Electric Cooperative and vice president of Southern, said Tuesday evening that PPL offered "very surprising, very acceptable" rates to the group of co-ops that make up Southern Montana.
 
The contract, however, does not necessarily mean plans for a coal-fired or gas-fired Highwood Generation Station have been abandoned, he told a crowd of Beartooth members at an informational meeting in Columbus.
Read full story

______________________

EPA concerned about GOP energy permit bill. The Environmental Protection Agency has sent a letter to the governor expressing concern about Republican legislation that aims to speed permitting for energy projects. House Bill 483, sponsored by Republican Rep. Llew Jones of Conrad is in the EPA sights. The EPA letter says that if Jones' bill becomes law it could impact whether state programs meet federal approval requirements. In particular, it says the bill may set impediments to public challenges of air and water-quality permits that might run contrary to requirements under the Clean Air and Water Acts. EPA Letter

This bill is now on the governor's desk and he now has the choice of Montana agencies (DEQ) doing their proper jobs or having the Fed's do it for us. Got your veto pen handy governor?

______________________

Last fall a small team of journalists, The Story Group, toured the west to learn about energy issues here. They compiled a series of videos about the various coal projects in Montana, Nevada, Utah, and the Four Corners region. In addition they compiled information regarding energy development in Colorado and Wyoming.
Here are the links to the videos:
Showdown at Highwood
Nevada Fights for Clean Energy
Utah Battles for Clean Power
Four Corners in the Crosshairs
Trouble in Deer Factory
A Look at the Boong

______________________

City, accountant debate energy figures. Great Falls accountant Larry Rezentes does not believe the public is aware how much money the city has sunk into its electrical energy ventures. "This is a total of $6 million in taxpayers' money that has been lost in this money-losing. Read full story

______________________

The End of the Road for Bush-Era Power Plant Mercury Rule Following New Administration’s Request, U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case. The United States Supreme Court this morning declined to consider a Bush-era rule that would have allowed a cap-and-trade approach to toxic mercury emitted by the U.S. power industry. This decision invalidates the Bush rule and sets a new course that will help protect America's waterways from toxic mercury pollution. Read full Story

______________________

Justice finally served - Judge reverses Overfield decision. A woman originally found guilty of disturbing a June 2007 City Commission meeting and socking a plain-clothed Great Falls police detective in the groin has had her convictions reversed by a District Court judge. Read full story

________________________

Environmental laws did not stifle coal-fired plant. First, dozens of coal-fired electric plants have been abandoned by their developers across the United States over the past two years. The explanation has been straight-forward economics. Utilities know that greenhouse gas emissions are about to be regulated in the United States as we join the rest of the world in recognizing the reality of global warming. Given that coal is our most greenhouse-gas-intensive fuel, that impending regulation is going to boost the cost of coal-fired electricity. No one knows at this point how this will affect the viability of coal as a source of electricity, so developers are pulling back from coal, waiting for some of the uncertainty about carbon regulation to be clarified. Read full story

________________________

February 3, 2009, 5:19 PM
Clarification: Coal Plans Deferred, Not Scrapped, Lawyer Says.
This morning, Kenneth A. Reich, a Boston-based attorney for the cooperative, called to say Mr. Gregori’s comments were widely misunderstood by the media. He said the cooperative is not quitting the idea of building the Highwood coal plant. Rather, it is simply deferring it in hopes that the regulatory climate will become more clear. Read full story

February 2, 2009 - SME drops coal plant plans.
Tim Gregori on Monday issued a statement on a Billings radio station saying that SME will drop all coal-related construction plans at Highwood.
Instead, they will shift their focus to wind energy and natural gas. More on this as it develops

Here is the radio announcement Link

Highwood ditches coal, switches to gas. Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission announced today that it will seek financing to construct a 120-megawatt combined cycle natural gas-fired facility, in addition to six megawatts of wind power. Read full story

Rural electric cooperative leaders building the troubled Highwood Generating coal-fired plant under construction near Great Falls have done a complete reversal. Read full story

________________________

Co-op dials down electricity surcharge but may assess it longer. "In March we may make a decision about what to do in the long term," Roodell said. "We just don't know what's going to happen."
In the meantime, Beartooth Electric has scheduled an informational meeting about recent rate increases for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Roberts High School. A presentation answering 15 key member questions is in the works, and members who attend will be able to write down other questions for board members as the meeting progresses. "We're going to talk about where we were, where we're at and where we're headed," Prinkki said.
Read full story

Panel mulls co-op's rate request. The Wyoming organizations, like many Montana customers, oppose the Highwood project. "Beartooth's involvement in the Highwood Generation Station is a further example of its ineffective management," the statement said. "Highwood is an imprudent investment in the face of additional environmental regulations and imminent carbon costs as will as increasing construction and transmission costs." Read full story

Co-op members shocked by power bill increase need answers. At our annual meetings, motions from the floor have not been allowed and important questions have been brushed aside. We need an open process that informs and involves members and calls on all the expertise we can get. It may be time to take another look at Highwood based on changing demand for electricity, new environmental information and a restructured financial world. Read full story

________________________

Officials scrap plans for plant at Malmstrom. Air Force officials announced Thursday that they have rejected private proposals to build a coal-to-liquids fuel plant at Malmstrom Air Force Base and will no longer pursue development of the large synthetic fuel plant at the Great Falls installation. Read full story

________________________

Washington, DC – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Concerned About Pollution, Global Warming; Big Stone II Sent Back to the Drawing Board. Less than three days after the Bush Administration left office, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has overturned the State of South Dakota’s approval of the massive Big Stone II coal-fired power plant. The EPA’s decision comes after the state failed to require state-of-the-art pollution controls for the coal plant that would address concerns about harmful soot, smog and global warming pollution. Read full story

Note that the EPA is objecting to an air quality permit that was issued last November because the state permit does not meet three key requirements of the Clean Air Act. The EPA's rationals are laid out in the following attachments:
epapart1.pdf epapart2.pdf

________________________

MSU campuses get grant for turbines. Montana State University-Great Falls College of Technology announced Tuesday that it has received a $2 million federal grant to implement its wind turbine program and develop wind energy programs at other campuses around the state. Read full story

________________________

SME responds to suit against Yellowstone co-op. SME officials deny they treated the Yellowstone cooperative unfairly, and lodged counterclaims in their response to the lawsuit. The company's response was filed Wednesday. Read full story

Read old story on Yellowstone's lawsuit filing

________________________

Time to Pay The Piper for some SME members: A whopping 50 percent increase in power rates made a hard landing this month on Montana customers of Beartooth Electric Cooperative Inc. "There's not much information about it," said Jones, whose bill increased from $300 to $700. "I don't know why I should have to pay $300 more for the same amount of electricity." Read full story

Read follow-on story

Please read menu item "
HGS 2+2=3" to better understand what this project will ultimately cost these folks.

________________________

How do Constitution's speech protections fit in a virtual world? The First Amendment provides that the government cannot easily control what we say or otherwise express in public, even when the speech is ill-tempered, rude or embarrassing to some. Read full story

________________________

Delegation eyes economy, energy. Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, will play a leading role in crafting and potentially passing a proposed $800 billion economic stimulus plan. About half of the money would be used for tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses, and to help states pay medical costs for the poor, under a plan proposed by President-elect Barack Obama. Those components of the economic stimulus plan fall under the jurisdiction of Baucus' committee. Read full story

________________________

Can America Clean Up from Its Worst Environmental Disaster? But this environmental disaster may be the worst in the country's history and the threats to health and the environment are severe, as the residents are beginning to learn. Clean up crews expressed their shock at the size and scope of the accident. "I ain't seen anything like this ever before," said one worker, who asked not to be identified by name because "TVA told us not to say anything. Fifteen years ago there was a tornado here -- it was nothing compared to this," he explained. Read full story

________________________

Tennessee coal ash disaster resonates in Montana. A national controversy over the disposal of coal ash from power plants has placed the spotlight on Montana, where a complex of older coal-fired power units at Colstrip was the subject of a multi-million-dollar court settlement. Read full story

________________________

Citizens Stuck With Bill For Tenn. Cleanup. The tab for a toxin-laden ash flood at a coal-fired power plant in Tennessee could reach hundreds of millions of dollars, and ratepayers for the nation's largest public utility will probably be stuck with the bill. Read full story

________________________

Toxic coal ash piling up in ponds in 32 states. Millions of tons of toxic coal ash is piling up in power plant ponds in 32 states, a situation the government has long recognized as a risk to human health and the environment but has done nothing about. Read full story

________________________

Tennessee Landowners File $165M Suit Over Massive Coal Ash Spill. Landowners in Tennessee have filed a $165 million lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority in the wake of last week’s massive spill of over one billion gallons of toxic coal ash next to a coal-burning steam plant. Read full story

________________________

Hundreds of Coal Ash Dumps Lack Regulation. The coal ash pond that ruptured and sent a billion gallons of toxic sludge across 300 acres of East Tennessee last month was only one of more than 1,300 similar dumps across the United States — most of them unregulated and unmonitored — that contain billions more gallons of fly ash and other byproducts of burning coal. Read full Story

________________________

Tests Show Pollution Near Ash Spill. Arsenic levels from the Kingston power plant canal, for example, tested at nearly 300 times the allowable limits in drinking water. A sample from 2 miles downstream revealed arsenic at about 30 times the limit. Read full story

Click here for photo's

________________________

Environmentalists Fear Risks From Tennessee Coal Ash Spill. The holiday disaster shows that there really isn't such a thing as a clean coal plant. Read full story

Spill much larger

Spill revives issues

________________________

A report compiled by Helena officials and the city’s Climate Change Task Force shows that the Capital City’s government reduced its energy usage between 2001 and 2007 by 22.1 percent and its carbon dioxide emissions by 18.1 percent. The drops in energy usage have translated into taxpayer dollars over the years. Using 2007 dollars, the city has saved more than $640,000 in energy bills throughout the six-year period. Read full story

________________________

A renewable energy development company with ties to Ireland has set up an office on Central Avenue in Great Falls as it pursues the possible construction of wind farms and a facility that would store compressed air in underground caverns to generate electricity when demand is higher. "CAES is a proven technology," McGowan said adding that two CAES (compressed-air-energy storage) facilities are operating in Germany and Alabama, and a third is under construction in Ohio. Gaelectric has studied 90 possible CAES sites in Montana, and identified five locations suitable for a facility, McGowan said. McCormick said CAES sites in northcentral and southwestern Montana already are under consideration. "The governor has met with them a few times and is very excited about what they might be able to do with this," McCormick said. Read full story

________________________

Governor optimistic about year ahead. "First, we want to produce American energy that is clean and green. And number two, we want them to know in Congress that the 19 states that represent the Western Governors Association produce 90 percent of the oil and gas, 70 percent of the coal, nearly 100 percent of the marketable solar energy, and a large part of the wind energy". Read full story

________________________

Merry Christmas: A federal appeals court in Washington reversed itself on Tuesday and temporarily reinstated a Bush administration plan to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants. The rule, Ms. Patton said, “provides a foundation for building a more comprehensive program that protects human health from the full sweep of pollutants that are emitted from coal-fired power plants.” Read full story

________________________


The Montana Historical Society weighs in on the HGS saga.
SHPO Letter Dec 08

________________________

SME sued by one of its own. Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative of Huntley filed a lawsuit Friday against Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative or SME, which is trying to build a coal-fired electric generating facility near Great Falls. The power would be shared among five Montana electric cooperatives and the city of Great Falls. BillingsGazette story
Tribune story

________________________

The special ECP audit is now released: ECP_Audit

________________________

SME wins local permit battle. Despite the setback, opponents will continue the fight on other fronts, she said. Hedges noted that opponents plan to appeal the November District Court decision on the rezoning issue to the state Supreme Court, and challenges already have been filed in District Court and before the state Board of Environmental Review over SME's state-issued air-quality permit. Read full story

________________________

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama has selected his top energy and environmental adviser. The officials said Mr. Obama would name Steven Chu, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as his energy secretary, and Nancy Sutley, deputy mayor of Los Angeles for energy and environment, as head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Mr. Obama also appears ready to name Carol M. Browner, the E.P.A. administrator under President Bill Clinton, as the top White House official on climate and energy policy and Lisa P. Jackson, New Jersey’s commissioner of environmental protection, as the head of the E.P.A. Read full story

________________________

SME's illegal construction activities to date cannot satisfy the requirements for commencing construction under the Clean Air Act. Accordingly, we have notified DEQ that SME has failed to meet its November 30 construction deadline and that its permit has expired accordingly. Read full advisory noticeDEQ_Letter_SME_Construction

________________________

Appellants seek review of Air Quality Permit 3423-01, issued to the Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Inc. (“SME”) for the Highwood Generating Station. To accommodate SME in its rush to move the Highwood project forward without necessary improvements, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) issued a permit modification that fails to set any limits on emissions of fine particulate (“PM2.5”) and unlawfully allows SME to circumvent pollution control requirements for hazardous air pollutants. Read full BER petition

________________________

Montgomery still plans to build plant. Montgomery Energy Partners owns land just north of Black Eagle and an air quality permit to build a natural gas, combined cycle plant to produce 275 megawatts of electricity. It's going to stay that way, said Dan Hudson, owner of the company. Read full story

______________________

Army Corps suspends SME's Missouri River water intake and electrical transmission permits for the Highwood Generation Plant.
SME_Permits_Suspended

________________________

Highwood plant wins ruling in zoning case. Hedges said she believes that conclusion was reached through odd logic. Read full story

Judge Philips ruling

________________________

Several groups appeal the DEQ issuance of an air permit to SME. Pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 75-2-211(10), Montana Environmental Information Center, Citizens for Clean Energy, Sierra Club, and National Parks Conservation Association hereby request a hearing before the Board of Environmental Review. The appellant organizations and their respective members are adversely affected by the Department of Environmental Quality’s (“DEQ”) November 10, 2008 decision to grant Air Quality Permit Number 3423-01 to Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Inc. — Highwood Generating Station. As provided by § 75-2-211(10), appellants will file an affidavit setting forth the grounds for this request within 30 days of the DEQ’s final permitting decision for the Highwood Generating Station. Filed 11/24/2008
Read full story

________________________

State DEQ cites SME for permit violation. Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission began construction of Highwood Generating Station east of Great Falls before its air permit became final, a violation that could carry financial penalties, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality. Read full story

Read DEQ Letter

________________________

Congressional briefing from the National Park Service. Construction of the Highwood Generating Station (HGS) east of Great Falls, Montana is a federal undertaking that threatens the integrity of the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark (NHL) and adversely impacts the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail (NHT). Construction of HGS has begun prior to completion of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Section 106 process. Read full briefing letter

________________________

We strongly urge the Army Corps to take immediate steps to require the applicant to stop all on-site work relating to the project, and to ensure that Section 106 review is completed prior to any further action or ground disturbance on-site. Failure to take these steps will leave both the Army Corps and the applicant vulnerable to litigation under the NHPA. Read the full letter

________________________

Surprise Drop in Power Use Delivers Jolt to Utilities. An unexpected drop in U.S. electricity consumption has utility companies worried that the trend isn't a byproduct of the economic downturn, and could reflect a permanent shift in consumption that will require sweeping change in their industry. Read full story

________________________

Plant's impact on historic site could hamper water access. Developers of the plant still must obtain federal approval to install permanent water intake equipment and a transmission line from the river to the plant site eight miles east of Great Falls along Salem Road. Read full story

________________________

Electric charges generate surprise at city meeting. "NorthWestern is not a demon," said Commissioner Mary Jolley, who has criticized the city's electricity venture. She also claimed the figures vindicated Ed McKnight, a former mayoral candidate, who has charged for months that the city's rates were higher than NorthWestern's. Read full story

________________________

Electric City Power board members discuss offer of blended rate. Based on the current rate, the city could buy power from SME for less money than it bills its customers, she said. Since Electric City Power has lost more than $1 million over the past several years, the new blended rate would be expected to chip away at the city's deficit, Balzarini said. Read full story

________________________

Environmentalists Win Big EPA Ruling. "In a nutshell it sends [new plants ]back to the drawing board to address their CO2 emissions," says Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club's National Clean Coal campaign. "In the short term it freezes the coal industry in its tracks." Read full story

________________________

Ruling could spell trouble for coal plants. Earthjustice is representing the Helena-based Montana Environmental Information Center and Great Falls-based Citizens for Clean Energy, which are suing the state Department of Environmental Quality, demanding carbon dioxide controls at the Highwood plant, which is under construction eight miles east of Great Falls. Read full story

________________________

Group pushing city to release SME documents. In his brief, MEIC attorney David "Kim" Wilson of Helena accused the city of Great Falls of an "unprecedented effort" to keep details about the coal-fired power plant from the public. Read full story
________________________

Several hurdles later, CMR ready to install campus wind turbine. Nearly two years after getting the green light from school officials to build a wind turbine on the C.M. Russell High School campus, students and staff hope to be using wind for power by the end of next week. Read full story
________________________

Attorneys argue power plant zoning. The industrial complex would be out of place in the agricultural setting, and the rezoning is "special legislation" for SME's benefit, at the expense of neighboring farmers and ranchers. Read full story
________________________

City may pay $10 million for water rights. Kathleen Gessaman of Great Falls disagreed at a later City Commission meeting. "I think we'd have an excellent chance in the Water Court," she said. The alternative of buying water rights is "awfully expensive," she added. Read full story

________________________

No Missouri River water for HGS? The Corps of Engineers have been advised that the Federal 106 process involving the Lewis ad Clark portage site has not been completed and the Corps cannot legally issue construction and water draft permits from the Missouri River until this is adequately and satisfactorily completed. Read notice
The parks system has already weighed in on the 106 issue. See menu item: "ACHP Letter"

________________________

SME warned of violation of the clean air act and required to cease construction activities. SME does not have the necessary permits to begin construction of the Highwood Generation Station and faces potential fines of $25,000 per day. Read full legal brief Read MACT 60 day legal notice
Critics demand EPA halt Highwood work. Read Tribune Story

________________________

Proposed fuel plant could cross runway. "There has been no flying mission at Malmstrom for more than a decade and the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure commission plan did not discuss the possibility of reopening the Malmstrom runway," Griffin said. "So a potential flying mission at the base is not germane to discussions about putting a coal-to-liquid-fuel plant there." Read full story

________________________

Funding questions linger as power plant breaks ground. In late spring, Gregori said project officials looked at obtaining investment-grade ratings from two Wall Street firms as early as August to enable power plant to be financed using bonds. In August, Gregori said the project had not applied for the ratings. Read full story

________________________

New Wind Applications Center Help Educate Public on the Applications of Wind Energy. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has named Montana State University as the home for the state's new Wind Applications Center. The designation means that, in the coming years, MSU will incorporate more wind-specific topics into existing engineering courses for students, help educate the public about wind energy and provide support for Montana's growing wind industry, according to Robb Larson, who will be in charge of the center. Read full story

Also check out:
http://www.isepa.com/

________________________

Pay close attention SME (Tim Gregori).........
Firm lays out wind power plan
for stored wind energy in Montana. A wind power developer like Gaelectric could use power from the plant to augment its wind projects, offering "firmed up" or steady power to a utility, instead of intermittent wind that has to be augmented with power from another source, he said. Read full story

________________________

SME breaks ground on Highwood plant. County Commissioner Joe Briggs said the county must still approve a location conformance permit before structures are erected, but earth-moving activities are allowed until then. Read full story

________________________

Wind farm goes live. When the company broke ground July 17, Jose Maria Sanchez Seara, the CEO of NaturEner USA, said it planned to build an additional 300 to 500 megawatts of wind farm power in Montana alone over the next two years, apart from the Glacier project. Read full story

________________________

DEQ to hold meeting on air-quality permit. The state Department of Environmental Quality will conduct a public meeting to discuss a modified air-quality permit it issued Monday for a proposed coal-fired power plant east of Great Falls. Read full story

________________________

Rural co-ops confident coal-fired plant will be built. SME is in the process of securing a $10 million to $15 million loan from a private bank to begin the project and continues to work on the long-term financing. Read full story

________________________

Focusing city's audit on electric utility is a good idea. Considering public tension surrounding the city of Great Falls' dealings with the electric cooperative that wants to build a coal-fired power plant nearby, the city manager's decision last week to focus an audit on those dealings was a good one. Read full story

________________________

Highwood air permit for fine particulate released. In May, the state Board of Environmental Review sent the portion of air permit dealing with PM2.5 back to the drawing board after the successful appeal by Citizens and MEIC. Read full story

________________________

Barbs fly in hearing over Highwood zoning: A Cascade County courtroom was jammed with observers Thursday as attorneys sparred over a motion to dismiss a lawsuit on zoning for a proposed coal-fired power plant east of town. Read full story

________________________

Schweitzer touts energy advances, job growth. The Democratic governor also expressed skepticism about whether two proposed Great Falls-area coal projects will ever be built. Read full story

________________________

Small Wind Turbine Federal Tax Credit is Law. President Bush signed the bill into law 10/3/08. Owners of small wind systems with 100 kilowatts (kW) of capacity and less can receive a credit for 30% of the total installed cost of the system, not to exceed $4,000. The credit will be available for equipment installed from today through December 31, 2016. For turbines used for homes, the credit is limited to the lesser of $4,000 or $1 ,000 per kW of capacity. Read full story

________________________

A rural Texas utility has filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government's suspension of a major loan initiative for coal-fired power plants across the country. "I wish them well," said SME's Prinkke, adding RUS "pulled the plug on us at the most inappropriate time." Read full story

________________________

Something’s Happening Here, What it is, Ain’t Exactly Clear…It’s unusual to think that Coleen Balzarini the City would request an opinion from its insurance carrier about at “what point do these accusations turn into harassment or character assasination.” Coleen Balzarini Kelly Audet is, of course, referring to suggestions of wrongdoing leveled against certain City officials. Of course, this makes no sense, because if we assume that someone in the audience were to slander, say, Coleen Balzarini…ooops, Coleen Balzarini, the claim would be Ms. Balzarini’s against the slanderer. It wouldn’t give rise to claims against the City. Would you call your auto insurance carrier to ask whether you could sue your neighbor for trespassing? No. Read the full article by Gregg Smith

________________________

Citizens forced to go back to court to get public documents: In a letter delivered Monday, SME also asked the city to stop allowing public access to all the documents related to the coal plant until the corporation could review them to make sure they didn't include proprietary information.

Read Tribune Story

________________________

Citizens for Clean Energy blamed by Fergus Electric Cooperative for HGS plant delays. This cooperative is a member of the SME group attempting to build the Highwood Coal-Fired Plant. They are running out of time and blame the delays on CCE and MEIC. They should have done their homework for reception in this area "FIRST". They would have found out then that residents here do not want that fiasco in our backyard. So go look in the mirror and blame yourselves for YOUR failures Fergus Electric.......

KRTV Report

________________________

City employees shredding public documents at the request of SME! We have the "smoking gun" documented proof of this serious action. Those have been turned over to our MEIC attorneys for their review.
KFBB-TV Report

________________________

CCE Press Release 7/27/08: This past week members of CCE/MEIC have been given access to certain public documents and records. That has lead to the finding of other record trails that may support keeping our water rights at the historic volume. We just need more time to follow the evidence through to a supportive conclusion. Is that too much to ask, a simple letter from city hall could possibly save future citizens millions of dollars and grief over water issues. Read full press release

KFBB TV news report

________________________

Whoa!
The city has just decided to make a midstream change in the disclosure of public documents. Apparently SME was not happy with the previously worked out process between CCE and MEIC representatives. The city has canceled viewing appointments made by these organizations so that SME attorneys may determine what public city documents may be looked at. So much for our brief adventure with a brief open city government!
The news media has been invited to attend our attempt to keep our Monday morning appointment at 10:00 AM. The public is invited too as we will be releasing some critical informations............
Here is the email text received at 4:49 Friday afternoon from the city clerk canceling our Monday morning appointment:

"Hi Aart, as you seem to be the spokeman for the group, could you please advise everyone that the records currently in the Ryan Room will be reviewed on Monday, July 28, by SME Attorney Mary Jaraczeski and, therefore, will not be available for your review as previously anticipated. Thank you for your understanding.
Lisa Kunz, City Clerk"

________________________

City commission votes not to appeal Judge Phillips ruling against the city. Read Tribune Story
Here is the sound file of the proceedings
WS210004

________________________

City hall lifts the veil of secrecy. Tuesday July 22nd: The secrecy over public documents was broken and our citizen constitutional rights finally bore fruit today. The Citizens for Clean Energy (CCE) and Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) were given access to many of the previously requested documents concerning the Highwood coal-fired plant (HGS).
Tribune Story
KRTV Report
KFBB TV Report

________________________

Judge was right to open city's draft documents. That's the strong message sent by State District Judge E. Wayne Phillips of Lewistown in his ruling that the city of Great Falls cannot withhold documents from the public simply because those documents are in draft form. Read full editorial story

________________________

City examining suit ruling. The commission may hold a special meeting next Wednesday to discuss the ruling and decide whether to appeal, Doyon said. He noted an appeal would cost the city extra money. A tentative time for the meeting would be 1:30 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, depending on how many commissioners would be available. Read full story

________________________

CCE, MEIC, and citizens request documents from Great Falls as per judgment. Click for document request

More news link

TV Link

City manager responds to public records ruling.
Tribune Story

________________________

City of Great Falls loses lawsuit to MEIC. At one point in his ruling, Phillips called one of the city’s positions on the documents “disingenuous.” In his decision, Phillips said "that the mere fact that it might be more convenient for the city to negotiate beyond the public's view, does not alter the constitutional requirement that the government conduct its business openly." Read full story.........
Here is the full judgement ruling.

________________________

Coal plant ash is nuclear waste. When considering the nuclear consequences of coal combustion, policymakers should look at the data and recognize that the amount of uranium-235 alone dispersed by coal combustion is the equivalent of dozens of nuclear reactor fuel loadings. Read full article

________________________

City's bill for power plant push draws fire. City Fiscal Officer Coleen Balzarini said that spending money on power plant development — and the city's utility arm, Electric City Power — does not affect the general fund budget, which covers basic city services. An Electric City Power deficit of $222,641 this year will be considered a loan from spare city cash, with the expectation that it will be paid back. Read full story

Hmmm,
I need some help?

Here is my problem.

1. I am starting a new company (ECP). I agree to buy power for $10.00 from Company SNE and pay for this commodity right away. If I sell this same power thru my new company (ECP) for $ 8.00 have I lost or given away $2.00 dollars? If I did this every year for the past six years am I behind $12.00 dollars?

2. If I give the power company, SNE, $15.00 dollars to 'guarantee" that I will pay my power bill on time, haven't I given away my ownership and rights to this $15.00 dollars?

3. I think maybe I am now behind in my financing by $27.00 dollars?

4. I really like this power Company SNE, so I will go to the bank and borrow $150.00 dollars to be a partner in their venture. I have to go to my Dad and ask him to help me pay back this $150.00 dollars. My company ECP does not make enough money to pay back my Dad.

5. I really like my company ECP, and I just know and believe that when I win the lottery in five years, I will pay back my Dad and have money left over, right?

6. If by chance I do not win the lottery, will I have lost money all these years and into the next five years?

7. Is my ECP business a good and profitable enterprise? I am kind of new at business but I want to have a business I can dabble with.

Can you see any problems with my current business plan?

________________________

Former city mayor Randy Gray plans to resign from board of Electric City Power. Opponents of a proposed coal-fired power plant east of Great Falls have criticized Gray and fellow board member Dawn Willey for missing meetings. Willey was absent Monday, but the board did not discuss her situation. Read full story

________________________

Conservation groups file suit against DEQ. The Montana Environmental Information Center and Citizens for Clean Energy, a Great Falls-based group that is fighting the Highwood project. The lawsuit was filed in Cascade County District Court. Read Tribune story

________________________

Lawsuit filed: Montana State “DEQ” violated federal and state law air pollution laws in issuing Air Quality Permit No. 3423-00 for the Highwood Generating Station. Petitioners Montana Environmental Information Center (“MEIC”) and Citizens for Clean Energy (“CCE”), and respectfully request that this Court: (1) declare that the Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) violated federal and state law air pollution laws in issuing Air Quality Permit No. 3423-00 for the Highwood Generating Station; (2) invalidate Air Quality Permit No. 3423-00 for the Highwood Generating Station; and (3) enjoin DEQ from approving construction of the Highwood Generating Station until DEQ has issued a valid air quality permit.
Read full petition

This just in affirms our lawsuit claims: The decision that came down this morning in the Longleaf case. This decision stemmed from the appeal of the ALJ's decision upholding the PSD permit for the Longleaf facility, proposed by Dynegy, to be built in Early County, Georgia (on the Alabama border). In this decision, the court makes a number of nationally significant findings including the following:
(1) CO2 is subject to regulation under the Act -- therefore BACT for CO2 must be included in a PSD permit;
(2) IGCC must be considered in a BACT determination for a coal-fired power plant;
(3) PM2.5 - when petitioners present evidence that the PM2.5 NAAQS will be blown, using PM10 as a surrogate is insufficient.
Read full decision

________________________

Microsoft and Yahoo appreciate green energy in Washington State. This is a great step in Yahoo!’s step in reducing energy consumption and becoming carbon neutral by the end of this year and Microsoft takes being green and sustainability seriously to be socially conscious and save money. Read full story

________________________

Montana State schools adding new wind programs. MSU-Great Falls College of Technology is assembling an advisory board and will hire a staff member or consultant to develop curriculum for a wind technology program. Read full story
Story addendum

________________________

Washington Grant County PUD to consider joining with SME. Grant PUD General Manager Tim Culbertson spoke of the utility possibly acquiring 50 to 75 megawatts of coal power and taking an equity role in the Great Falls, Montana-based Highwood Generating Station. The station hasn't been built. He said he learned about the PUD's chance to get involved with the project after the Yellowstone Valley Co-op decided not to back the project. Read full story
Story addendum

________________________

City puts coal plant on back burner for 30 days. After much debate Wednesday over the Highwood Generating Station proposed east of Great Falls, city commissioners chose to wait at least a month before they decide what to do about the city's involvement in the controversial coal-fired power plant. Read full story
Story addendum

________________________

Grant PUD eyes new coal plant. MOSES LAKE - Grant County PUD staff will gather information about adding coal to its power portfolio in case power production decreases at its dams. The utility is looking at the possibility of someday acquiring power from a planned coal-fired power generating plant project in Montana, said PUD Commissioner Tom Flint. He described the Highwood Generating Station as a clean-coal project that plans to use different technology. Read full story

________________________

How do you brew gasoline from yeast? Find out in our latest Unleash the Future video, a groundbreaking exploration of the clean energy future. Read full story

________________________

NASA Climate Scientist Says "We're Toast". (AP) Exactly 20 years after warning America about global warming, a top NASA scientist said the situation has gotten so bad that the world's only hope is drastic action. Read full story

________________________

Summer 1805 portage created more challenges for the Corps. While in Great Falls for the Lewis and Clark Festival, take time to see the "most endangered" section of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail — the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark. Read full story

________________________

Will More Drilling Mean Cheaper Gas? The sad truth is that neither drilling nor conservation will have an immediate effect on rising gas prices, even if they do have an immediate impact on the presidential race. Read full story

________________________

Malmstrom Coal-to-liquids proposal deadline reached. The deadline for developers to pitch proposals for a coal-to-liquid fuel plant at Malmstrom Air Force Base has passed, but the Air Force agency in charge of evaluating the offers isn't releasing much information about the number or names of those interested. Read full story

________________________

Transportation, energy key issues for candidate Driscoll. With full use of Montana wind, the state's plentiful — but dirtier — coal reserves wouldn't have to be burned for energy, Driscoll said. Instead, he suggested research on putting the coal to use to manufacture plastic and other materials. Read full story

________________________

Wind, other renewables, need Senate to pass tax credit. "The progress we've made in alternative energy grinds to a halt if we don't extend this credit," Tester said. "It gives Montana the tools we need to lead the way in developing our other natural resources like wind, biomass, and geothermal energy. Read full story

________________________

Great Falls City Manager Greg Doyon memoradum to the city commissioners: As the commission is well aware, I am struggling with the matter of balancing the Commission's/public right to know and SME's need for confidentialtly. Read full memo

________________________

Striking coal miners at the Absaloka Mine, east of Hardin, have rejected the latest contract offer from management. Union spokesman George Golie (ECP Board member) says an overwhelming majority of miners rejected the latest company offer Wednesday night. Read full story

________________________

Hearing to look at oversight of Highwood plant. While the committee's chairman said the panel has no interest in intervening in the state's recent decision to require plant developer Southern Montana Electric Generation & Transmission to implement more stringent pollution controls, there appeared to be interest by some in the audience to try to reign in the regulatory process. Read full story

________________________

In tune with the television season, the Electric City Power board meeting Monday night almost seemed like a rerun. Also at the meeting, plant opponents kept up their criticism of the project, with some arguing the city should cut its ties to the power plant. One leading opponent, Dr. Cheryl Reichert, urged that area voters be asked on the Nov. 4 general election ballot what they think of the proposed plant. Read full story

________________________

Great Falls city commissioners must decide whether they want the city to become a partial owner of the coal-fired Highwood Generating Station proposed east of Great Falls. Owning a one-fourth share of the power plant could cost the city an additional $600,000 to $3 million in development costs before plant construction begins, City Manager Greg Doyon told commissioners Friday in a memorandum analyzing the situation. Doyon outlined the city's options in light of developments surrounding the controversial power plant during the past 12 months. Read full story

________________________

Montgomery Energy remains eager to provide electricity to the city of Great Falls and/or the Southern Montana Electric Transmission Cooperative, a group to which the city belongs. Giacolone said "massive uncertainty" hangs over proposed coal plants, because of rising costs to build them, skeptical lenders and the potential costs to capture carbon dioxide given off by the plants. Read full story

________________________

Nobel Winner: CO2 Going to 1,000 Parts Per Million. During a break, I asked Dr. Rowland two quick questions. The first: Given the nature of the climate and energy challenges, what is his best guess for the peak concentration of carbon dioxide? Read full story

_________________________

Board sets high bar for particulate emissions for coal-fired Highwood Station. The order requires SME, which already has an air quality permit, to do additional work studying whether the technology is available to control PM2.5, which stands for particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller, before the project can proceed. Read full story

_________________________

Montgomery Energy gas-plant project will be good deal. Montgomery Energy said it hoped to start construction at the site just north of the barley-malting plant on U.S. Highway 87 later this year or next spring. Read full story

_________________________


Events justify taking fresh look at city's role with SME.
We now applaud new City Manager Greg Doyon's desire to take a fresh look at the city's involvement in Highwood. Considering the shifting political sand beneath the project, it only makes sense. Read full story

_________________________

Hi-Line wind farm eyes fall finish. The state's largest wind farm, under construction immediately south of this Hi-Line town, will be finished in five months, officials with the San Francisco-based company said at the site Wednesday. Read full story

_________________________

WILD GREEN YONDER AIR FORCE???? In March, Air Force Capt. Rick Fournier flew a B-1 stealth bomber code-named Dark 33 across this sprawling proving ground, to confirm for the first time that a plane could break the sound barrier using synthetic jet fuel. A similar formula -- a blend of half-synthetic and half-conventional petroleum -- has been used in some South African commercial airliners for years, but never in a jet going so fast. Read full story

_________________________

Montgomery Energy not affected by FERC ruling. “The FERC ruling will have absolutely no impact on our project. In the past few months Northwestern Energy has been working cooperatively with us on an interconnection agreement in which the costs are now approximately 2% of the original estimate of $146 M, the principle basis of our FERC complaint,” Hudson continued.  “In fact, we plan on expanding the existing 275 Mw baseload power plant (cost $275-$300 M) to include an additional 125 Mw, (cost $96M) simple cycle peaking plant, for a combined facility of 400 Mw.” News Release Tribune Article

_________________________

Highwood plant dodges bullet with ruling. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday ruled against Montgomery Energy, which wanted FERC to place the company first in line for access to area transmission lines, ahead of the Southern Montana Electric Generation & Transmission Cooperative and other developers. SME wants to build the coal-fired Highwood Generating Station eight miles east of Great Falls. Read full story

_________________________

City to re-examine role in Highwood plant. City of Great Falls officials are taking a new look at bankrolling development of the proposed coal-fired Highwood Generating Station. Read full story

_________________________

Organization picks L&C portage route for endangered list. Citing the threat of the proposed coal-fired Highwood Generating Station, the National Trust for Historic Preservation plans to name a Great Falls-area site to its 2008 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. News Release Tribune Article

_________________________

Recycle your CFL bulbs at Ace Hardware. A pair of Ace Hardware stores in Great Falls and other Ace stores across Montana, South Dakota and Utah are taking part in a pilot program for recycling compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. Read full story

_________________________

Wind farm production system is expected to generate power that can be sold profitably at less than 2.5¢ per kWh. Mass Megawatts Wind Power, Inc. (OTCBB: MMGW) is a leader in the development of low-cost, wind energy production systems. The patented, Multi-Axis Turbosystem (MAT) is capable of generating electricity at 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour at an average wind speed of 15.5 miles per hour. This generation cost is 40% below traditional wind turbine technologies, and is directly competitive with fossil fuel power plants such as coal and natural gas. Read full story

_________________________


Solar Energy Systems Breakthrough: Using SUNRGI's propriety technology it is possible to produce large amounts of electricity from solar radiation at a whole sale price of US $0.05 / kWh "Solar power at 5 cents per kWh would be a world-changing breakthrough. It would make solar generation of electricity as affordable as generation from coal, natural gas or other non-renewable sources, without requiring and subsidy" Read full story
Click for website link

_________________________


Officials mixed after Highwood pullout. "If you get 17 nonfatal blows, they just might add up to death," said Great Falls City Commissioner Mary Jolley, a consistent critic of the project. Jolley said she hopes the city will take the opportunity to divorce itself from the Highwood project, as the Yellowstone Valley co-op has done. Read full story

_________________________

Billings-area co-op pushed out of Highwood. The group trying to build Montana's first major coal-burning power plant in more than a generation has removed a Billings-area electric cooperative from its ranks and is now trying to find a replacement for what was the largest utility backing the project. Read full story

_________________________

Major player says it's pulling out of Highwood Generating Station project. The largest member of Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission, a coalition of rural electric utilities proposing to build a coal-fired power plant east of Great Falls, wants out. Read full story

______________________

A sour grapes Montana legislature proposes eliminating DEQ review board. State Sen. Keith Bales already has started to take steps to try to make that happen in 2009. Bales submitted two bill draft requests to the state Legislative Services Division. One bill would revise laws governing the Board of Environmental Review, and the other would eliminate the Board of Environmental Review. Read full story

_________________________

State board requires expanded review of Highwood air permit: The Montana Board of Environmental Review on Monday became the first regulatory body in the nation to call for separate measurement and emissions controls for tiny-particle pollution known as PM 2.5, which is emitted at industrial facilities such as coal-fired power plants. Read full story

_________________________


Look forward to fill state, nation's energy needs.
By BOB RANEY: The Tribune published a column by former Great Falls Mayor Randy Gray April 7 commenting on the future of energy and its effects on Great Falls. Randy ignores some history and Great Falls political mistakes and assumes that a think tank's projected growth in energy demand will become reality. Please allow me to offer another view. Read full story

_________________________


What Washington Can Learn from Montana.
Rural states like Montana — where there is significant capacity for both wind power and biofuels — also stand to benefit from the transition to clean power. Montana can't produce a lot of the corn that currently goes to make most biofuel in the U.S., but it does have vast acreage that could be used to raise waste crops for cellulosic ethanol in the future, or biodiesel today. Schweitzer points out that his administration was able to pass a renewable energy portfolio standard, mandating that 15% of the state's power come from alternative sources by 2015. Read full story

Click
here to listen to the governor's full interview

_________________________

Colony pins hopes on wind power. Since 2004, 19 wind turbines have gone up on this Hutterite colony's land about 130 miles south of Great Falls. More are on the way. Read full story

_________________________


The new gold rush. "Not only do we make an impact to the landowners where the project is built, we make quite an impact to the taxpayers in the counties, and that helps everybody," said Bill Alexander, the company's chief development officer. Read full story

$400 million wind project near Ethridge under way. Work on what will be Montana's largest wind farm is under way in Glacier and Toole counties. Read full story

_________________________

City water rights contract raises questions. Nerves were on edge this week as Great Falls city commissioners debated a sweetened water rights consulting contract. Read full story

Now here is a more accurate perspective for your consideration......

And
here is a video of the action to judge for yourselves

_________________________


Gibson Dam may produce power for the first time.
The Gibson Dam Hydroelectric Project filed its formal license application with a federal agency Thursday, along with a preliminary environmental assessment prepared by the company, for the proposed 15-megawatt project. Read full story

_________________________


Landowners near Highwood site sue county - AGAIN.
A lawsuit filed Thursday in Cascade County District Court asks a judge to throw out a March decision by Cascade County commissioners to rezone 668 acres east of Great Falls for a coal-fired power plant, saying it was spot-zoning. Read full story
More stories

_________________________

Wind farm pitches capacity expansion to NWE. NorthWestern is paying about $30 per megawatt hour for electricity purchased from the Judith Gap wind farm, which began operating in 2006. Other costs associated with the power increase the bill to about $38 per mwh, but those costs are projected to increase this year, NorthWestern officials have said. Read full story

_________________________


City manager wants to know role in Highwood project.
Doyon told commissioners at an agenda-setting meeting Wednesday, held in offices at the city's sewage-treatment plant, that he is concerned about devoting a couple of days per month to the Billings meetings while he is trying to learn about Great Falls' government. Read full story

_________________________


Montgomery offers to sell SME power.
Texas-based Montgomery Energy is pitching to sell electricity to Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission, which has run into financing and environmental challenges in building a coal-fired power plant to generate its own power. Read full story

_________________________


'Green' bandwagon is getting a big.
The new group is about to launch the most ambitious U.S. marketing campaign ever on climate change, at a cost of more than $100 million a year for three years, to focus on the urgency of the problem and solutions. Read full story

_________________________


In repressive regimes, access to government information is among the first limitations imposed.
What leads government officials high and low, then and now, to desire to operate behind closed doors and in private chats, out of sight and out of oversight? The answer is simple: Democracy is a messy, conflicting, argumentative, occasionally inefficient, and certainly challenging form of government. But civility, expediency and ease of operation are gravy, not goals, for our system of government. Read full story

Click here for an example

_________________________

Electrical Hi-Lites of Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc. There are some people in Montana who are determined to prevent any new coal-fired power plants being built in our state. Several environmental groups have filed legal action against SMEG&T to stop the Highwood Generating project. The air quality permit has been challenged on the basis of carbon dioxide and particulate emissions. Read full story

_________________________


Amid rebellion and chaos, EPA chief must resign.
Six years after the head of the Environmental Protection Agency resigned because of political interference, almost every EPA employee is begging the current administrator to quit -- as in, quit letting politics drive agency decisions. Read full story

_________________________

SME meeting to discuss new funding possibilities. Since its conception in 2004, the cost of the proposed coal-fired plant has jumped 78 percent - from an estimated $450 million to $800 million. Roughly estimating that the cost of carbon capture could run another $400 million, the total project could easily carry a $1.2 billion price tag, Holzer said. Read full story

_________________________


SME Line of bank credit ends.
Auditor Richard Matusiak reported that the Rural Utility Service recently denied federal funding for Highwood, which prompted CoBank to call in its $10 million line of credit on the project. Read full story

_________________________

Transmission line hearing generates praise, concerns. A public hearing on what would be the first merchant transmission line between Canada and the United States drew 100 residents to Great Falls on Tuesday, with economic development officials and elected officials singing its praises and farmers raising concerns. Read full story

_________________________


County commissioners approve zone change.
As expected, Cascade County commissioners Tuesday voted 2-1 to approve an industrial zone change on property where the Highwood Generating Station would be built. Read full story

_________________________

Rezoning protesters: 950 objections from outside district valid. Jaraczeski and Brian Hopkins, the county's chief civil attorney, have said the law only allows landowners to protest if they live within the 668 acres that would be rezoned under the proposal. The Urquhart family, which owns the property and is requesting the rezoning on behalf of SME, are the only landowners living in the district, as defined by the attorneys. Read full story

_________________________

Environmental group sues city for documents. The Montana Environmental Information Center sued the city of Great Falls last year for refusing to release documents the city said were drafts. Read full story

_________________________


German company announces plans for turbine plant. Company chairman Joachim Fuhrlander said an area in Butte, near the intersections of Intestates 90 and 15, was picked because of the available work force and training opportunities at Montana Tech. Read full story

_________________________

Rural Utilities explains funding pullout. Opinions were split Monday on whether a loss of federal financing has squashed a pro°©posed coal-fired power project near Great Falls area, or simply given the Highwood Generating Station a temporary setback. Read full story RUS Letter

_________________________

Coal-fired power plant projects feel heat from rising costs, environmental concerns. "You can't find a worse time to build a coal plant," said Tom Sanzillo, the former first deputy controller for the state of New York, who is studying financing for coal-fired power in the United States. Read full story

________________________


Group: Planning Board should dismiss Highwood rezoning vote because of conflict of interest, absent member
. Two alleged voting "irregularities" — including a conflict of interest — should disqualify an advisory vote recommending a heavy industrial zoning for the proposed site of a coal-fired power plant, a group opposed to the project said this week. Read full story CCE Expose

_________________________


Malmstrom Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Plant Opportunity Community Update.
This effort is part of the larger Air Force-wide energy strategy that aims to reduce demand and increase supply of energy resources as well as drive change in Air Force culture when it comes to consuming and conserving energy. Read full story

_________________________


Highwood air permit invalid, groups say.
In a letter to Montana Department of Environmental Quality Director Richard Opper, the groups said that because the Highwood plant's permit does not comply with the federal Clean Air Act's mercury emission requirements, construction of the plant cannot lawfully begin. Read full story

_________________________


EPA Chief's Final Decision On California CO2 Ruling Scorned.
William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, called Johnson's decision "a direct attack on the rights of states to protect the health and welfare of its citizens." Read full story

_________________________


USDA pulls plug on Highwood financing.
Citing a lack of funding, RUS has informed Southern Montana Electric Generation & Transmission that it can't finance the cooperative's proposed coal-fired power plant east of Great Falls. Read full story Lawton's memo

_________________________


Largest wind farm shaping up.
Construction of the state's largest wind farm to date will begin this spring 85 miles north of Great Falls in Toole County, the developer said this week. Read full story

_________________________

PPL to flow $175 million into Rainbow Dam upgrade. PPL Montana will spend approximately $175 million to update its Rainbow Dam hydroelectric plant northeast of Great Falls, a project that will almost double the electricity generated there. Read full story

_________________________

Citizens for Clean Energy fundraiser features ethnic food, live music and auction. Dine on fine international cuisine, enjoy violin music and bid on some awesome auction items as the Citizens for Clean Energy host a shebang of a fundraiser dinner from 6-8:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at First United Methodist Church, 610 2nd Ave. N. Read full story

_________________________

Move over, oil, there's money in Texas wind. Texas, once the oil capital of North America, is rapidly turning into the capital of wind power. After breakneck growth the last three years, Texas has reached the point that more than 3 percent of its electricity, enough to supply power to one million homes, comes from wind turbines. Read full story

_________________________

Commission rezoning decision infringes on neighbors' rights. Most of the folks living in the area surrounding the proposed Highwood Generating Station are disappointed and angered by the rezoning votes cast by Cascade County Commissioners Lance Olson and Joe Briggs. Read full story

_________________________

Governor asks for investigation of power plant settlement. Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Thursday asked Attorney General Mike McGrath to open a criminal investigation into whether the owners of a troubled western Montana power plant misled state regulators in order to avoid paying a $1.9 million fine. Read full story


A group of 45 landowners in the area of the proposed plant east of Great Falls are collecting the signatures required to file a formal protest of the rezoning. "Only residents who live within the 680 acres that's proposed for rezoning are legally entitled to submit protests", said Brian Hopkins, the county's chief civil attorney. Under that interpretation of the law, the only residents eligible to protest are Red and Mary Urquhart and Scott and Linda Urquhart, who are requesting the rezoning on behalf of Southern Montana Electric Generation & Transmission. Read full story

_________________________

Coming Sooner Than You Think: Oil will shoot up to the range of $300 a barrel, pushing pump prices to $15 a gallon. Maxwell said that unlike past recessions, "This will not be six months of hell and then we come out of it." A growing chorus of oil industry insiders and even CEOs of major oil companies are beginning to publicly agree with this assessment. But most American politicians - including the presidential candidates still in the running - have so far failed to acknowledge the imminence of peak oil. Without that acknowledgment, green jobs are seen as a nice thing for people and polar bears, but not as what they truly are - the only lifeline that can save a civilization about to founder on the rocks of peak oil. Read the full story

_________________________


A Solar Grand Plan:
By 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse gas emissions. Solar plants consume little or no fuel, saving billions of dollars year after year. The infrastructure would displace 300 large coal-fired power plants and 300 more large natural gas plants and all the fuels they consume. The plan would effectively eliminate all imported oil, fundamentally cutting U.S. trade deficits and easing political tension in the Middle East and elsewhere. Read full story

_________________________


Congressional Members Ask Rural Utility Service How it is Protecting Taxpayer Subsidized Loans from the Financial Risks of Climate Change.
In a letter to the Rural Utilities Service, Chairman Waxman and Rep. Jim Cooper asked how RUS is addressing the financial risks of building new coal-fired power plants without emissions controls for greenhouse gases, when RUS provides taxpayer-subsidized loans for such plants. Failure to account for costs these plants may face for future carbon controls would put taxpayer dollars at risk. Read full story
RUS's dirty little secret

_________________________


The public at large is turning against coal.
What began as a few local ripples of resistance to coal-fired power is quickly evolving into a national tidal wave of grassroots opposition from environmental, health, farm, and community organizations and a fast-growing number of state governments Read full story

_________________________


Lake Mead To Run Dry.
Climate research says Lake Mead, in the Southwest, could be gone by 2021. How millions in southern California and neighboring states would be affected. Read full story

_________________________


Wind Farms Need Techs to Keep Running.
"Finding experienced techs is impossible with wind growing as fast as it is," Martinson said. Read full story

_________________________

Board delays appeal of plant's air-quality permit. Members of the state Board of Environmental Review raised concerns Friday about the emissions-control technology that's planned for fine particulate matter at the proposed coal-fired Highwood Generating Station. Read full story

_________________________

Appeals court rejects Bush administration's mercury emission standards. A federal appeals court on Friday tossed out Bush administration rules for controlling mercury emissions from power plants, saying that the Environmental Protection Agency's mercury emission limits and cap-and-trade rule are illegal. Read full story

_________________________

Air Force eyes Montana site for coal-to-liquids plant. The U.S. Air Force announced in late January that it was eyeing a retired runway on its base near Great Falls, Mont., for a coal-to-liquid fuels plant, in response to President Bush's challenge to wean the nation off foreign oil. Read full story

_________________________

Rezoning approved for controversial Montana coal-plant site. Long-time locals hoping to sell their land to a Montana co-op that wants to build a coal-fired power plant nestled in some of the state's best farmland were granted their request for a rezone in late January, but plant opponents say they're undaunted. Read full story

_________________________


Evidence suggests that any additional mercury is too much.
Mercury in larger amounts has been known to be toxic to the brain since milliners used mercury vapors to shape hats, as evidenced by Lewis Carroll's "Mad Hatter." But the question facing us now is, "What amount of mercury is safe?" Read full story

_________________________

Schweitzer touts coal-to-liquids plant. Presidential candidates are debating when the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq, but the nation is so dependent on Middle East oil, Gov. Bryan Schweitzer said Thursday, "that our troops won't leave the region until we develop a good supply of domestic fuel." Read full story

_________________________

A green energy industry takes root in California. In recent months, the industry has added several thousand jobs in the production of solar energy cells and installation of solar panels on roofs. A spate of investment has also aimed at making solar power more efficient and less costly than natural gas and coal: Read full story

_________________________

Citizens for Clean Energy (CCE) investigate carbon capture & storage (CCS).
Since SME has publicly stated that the proposed HGS plant is working with MSU Bozeman"Big sky Research" project to do CSS. A letter was written to these folks in an attempt to ascertain if this was truly the case and at what stage is this research. Here is the response from the "Big Sky Research" CCS) research program director:
Letter

_________________________


The Montana Historical Society
today appeals to Governor Schweitzer to help preserve the Lewis & Clark historical portage site national designation which is being threatened by the rezoning of a portion of the area to heavy industrial to make way for a coal-fired power plant: Tribune Story

_________________________

Great Falls, 1/31/08...
Today the majority board of county commissioners (Joe Briggs & Lance Olson) abdicated their duties and opted to have the local county landowners take them to court to protect their livelihoods and to settle the issue of HGS Industrial site "spot zoning" for the highwood coal-burning plant:
Tribune Story

_________________________


DETROIT, January 13, 2008 . . .
In just completed road tests, a 2007 SUV straight off an American automaker’s showroom floor and subsequently equipped with the patent pending Extreme Hybrid™ (XH™) drive train, exceeded 150 mpg, AFS Trinity Power Corporation reported today at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

AFS Trinity CEO Edward W. Furia provided details of the tests and the patent pending Fast Energy Storage™ system that makes the Extreme Hybrid™ possible. During Furia’s report, a second, identically-equipped and fully functional SUV demonstrator of the XH™ technology was unveiled and will remain on display throughout the Auto Show.

“Extreme Hybrids™ don’t need high priced technology and don’t require new or expensive fuels, such as hydrogen, which, according to Argonne National Labs, will cost twice as much as gasoline at the pump and require installation of an infrastructure costing half a trillion dollars. The Extreme Hybrid™ is not a concept,” Furia said, “but a practical alternative that relies on cheap electricity from America’s vast existing energy infrastructure—the electric power grid.” Furia also pointed to a recent U.S. DOE study that concluded sufficient excess electrical generating and transmission
capacity exists today during off-peak hours in America’s power grid to recharge 84% of America’s light duty car, truck and SUV fleet—184 million vehicles—even if they were all converted to plug-in hybrid drive trains.

LICENSE OR MANUFACTURE: According to Furia, the next step for AFS Trinity is to license its breakthrough technology to carmakers who want to incorporate the XH™ drive train into their vehicles. “That would be our preference,” said Furia.

“However,” he continued, “If carmakers decide not to take advantage of this offer, AFS Trinity intends to raise the funds to begin modifying existing hybrids or manufacture its own 150 mpg SUV’s and, eventually, 250 mpg sedans. We believe such production models could be available for sale in three years.”


Furia explained, “The SUVs that we just completed that were outfitted with the XH™ drive train could have been any SUV made by anyone. The XH™ is a new generation of plug-in hybrid drive train ready to multiply the gas mileage of any SUV or any standard sedan.”

_________________________

The Montana Board of Historic Preservation voted 7 to 1 against the Highwood Generation Station

Here is the story as reported by Professor Aart Dolman who attended and testified: Jan 25, 2008

Just returned from Helena, and the Montana Board of Historic Preservation voted with a 7-1 vote against the placement of the HGS on the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark. It is currently drafting a letter to inform the Governor of their decision. This is an important component of the Section 106 process and it has to be taken into consideration by RUS before it completes the required consultation process.

Mr. Chaffee,SME Lawyer Ms Jaraczeki, and Mrs. Urqhart, property owner, presented the SME case with the usual power point show for 15 minutes. Then Dan Wiley, National Park Service, and Chere Juistio, Montana Preservation Alliance, as opponents to SME discussed the Section 106 process and its 213 Report. The committee asked quite a few questions, Some members of the board did not get satisfaction from the SME answers and explanations pertaining to the adverse effects on the NHL.

After the break, the Board discussed some of the issues and then asked the public to give testimony. All 5 members of the public, from Great Falls, testified against the SME project. Then the Board closed the hearing and voted against the HGS.

Sorry about the short report, but one public person was a retired professional archeologist for the Federal Government and he stated that in "his 30 years of federal government work in the field, never had the Federal government authorized a project that would create adverse impacts of any kind on a historic site."

_________________________


The Tribune got the city commissioners vote on the water and sewer increase WRONG.


Mary Jolley was the only one looking out for the interests of the taxpayers and voted NO against this increase.

Her concerns were that the water and sewer funds had been raided for other unknown purposes and until there were adequate explanations for that she could not support this increase.........


Article published Jan 25, 2008
Water, sewer rates to rise 5 percent in February
By RICHARD ECKE
Tribune Staff Writer
Water and sewer service in the city of Great Falls will cost more Feb. 5, after city commissioners voted 5-0 to hike rates by 5 percent.
Storm-sewer charges will remain the same.
Jim Rearden, city Public Works director, said that even with the increase, Great Falls still has the cheapest water and sewer rates among Montana's large cities. Great Falls sells water from the Missouri River to its customers.
Rearden said at a Tuesday night City Commission meeting that Great Falls has the oldest average age for water lines among Montana's large cities. Some 73 water lines in the city suffered breaks in 2007, including 11 in the Sunnyside area. Rearden noted that 1996 was even worse, with 122 breaks.
The hike in water rates will help the city meet its goal of replacing about 30 blocks of water lines annually, he said.
An average Great Falls homeowner pays $39.08 per month for city utilities, including $21.37 for water, $13.44 for sewer and $4.27 for storm drain fees. Rearden said the new fees will increase an average customer's bill by $1.79 per month, including $1.11 more for water and an extra 68 cents for sewer.
Rearden said increasing construction costs were a factor in the increase. He noted the costs to replace a water line rose from $108 per foot to $161 per foot from 2005 to 2007. Costs for oil, steel and labor also increased.
A public hearing on the increase drew only one opponent, Pamela Morris of Great Falls, who wondered if any of the additional revenue would go to pay for new utility connections for the proposed coal-fired Highwood Generating Station east of Great Falls.
"Absolutely none of this increase will go to Highwood," said City Manager John Lawton, who added the plant's developer would pay all those costs.
"Any development that comes in pays their own way," Rearden added.
No one spoke in favor of the increase.

_________________________


The Tribune has failed to state that of those proponents who testified most had something to gain financially or are on the SME payroll. All of the opponents were regular unpaid citizens expressing their concerns with SME's plans......
Article published Jan 22, 2008
County commissioners set date for vote on power plant rezoning request
By Tribune Staff
County commissioners will decide Jan. 31 whether to rezone the proposed site for the Highwood Generating Station coal-fired power plant.
More than 90 residents bombarded commissioners with testimony during a nearly 12-hour public hearing on the zone change on Jan. 15.
The rezoning involves changing the zoning of farmland east of Great Falls owned by the Urquhart family to heavy industrial land. If the designation changes, the family plans to sell the land to Southern Montana Electric Generation & Transmission, which hopes to construct a $720 million coal-fired power plant.
Commissioners said Tuesday they expect the meeting, which starts at 9:30 a.m. in the county commission chambers, to be short, as each will state their reasons for their vote, but will take no more public comments.

_________________________

Air Force closes CFL meeting to the public and the press: Tribune Story

_________________________


Malmstrom AFB coal-to-liquid plant:
Community Update Story

_________________________

MDU's new wind farm spins out the power: Tribune Story

_________________________

January 15th is the public county hearing on the coal-fired plant issue: Tribune Story

_________________________

Opponents of Montana coal plant seek controls of carbon dioxide: AP Story

_________________________


State board to hear HGS air-permit appeal:
Tribune Story

_________________________

Wind projects building momentum: Tribune Story

_________________________

As temperatures rise, health could decline: Washington Post

________________________


NW Energy plans more wind power for Montana:
Tribune Story

_________________________

U.S. Accedes on Aid Pledges, Wins Fight to Drop Specific Targets for Emissions Cuts: Washington Post

_________________________

Behind the millions of words at the Bali climate conference, in documents, speeches and slick brochures, lay a set of simple numbers: 2 and 445 and "25 to 40.": AP Story

_________________________

Fort Benton council votes to oppose Highwood Plant: Tribune Story

_________________________

Heated talks against Highwood power plant at meeting in Chouteau County: Tribune Story

_________________________

GFDA explore options for coal-to-liquids plant: Tribune Story

_________________________

Climate expert Doctor Running offers dim forecast: Missoulian Story

_________________________


Local native group has issued endorsements in the city government race:
Tribune Story

_________________________


Baucus backs coal in global climate change bill:
Tribune Story
The Senator has let us down on this one. We will follow this one carefully.......

_________________________

Gillette coal plant challenged over global warming: Tribune Story

_________________________


Growing a solar industry:
Story
Great falls could/should be growing a wind and solar energy industry, with our ample resources, instead of promoting and financing polluting dirty coal generators? Its way past time for our leadership to put on their thinking caps and move Great Falls forward into the 21st century and out of the 20th where they seem to be stuck.......

_________________________

Regional power supplier plugging into wind energy: Story

_________________________


An open letter to the people of Kansas from Governor Sebelius:
Story

_________________________

Coal plant fuels candidates' debate:Tribune Story

_________________________

Cascade County Commissioners approve rezoning rules, making way for the Highwood coal-fired plant: Mt News Station

_________________________

Energy firm claims it should be first in transmission queue: Tribune Story

_________________________

Fight against coal plant draws diverse partners: NY Times Sory

_________________________

Power Plant "REJECTED" over CO2 for first time: WashingtonPost Story

_________________________

The proposed 'Trojan Horse" coal plant pulls community wrong way:
Full Story
_________________________

A Key Threshold Crossed
-An intergovernmental panel on climate change report to be released next month will show that the limit on greenhouse-gases scientists hoped to avert has already been surpassed: Full Story
_________________________

Electric co-ops ponder coal's future, effects of climate change:
Tribune Story
_________________________

On 10/2/07 Our GF City Commissioners approved the wholesale power contract with SME. Like it or not we are now a part of (SME) Southern Montana Electric. We the taxpayers have also built, paid for and now given SME the electrical generation rights, to our new co-generation facility at the wastewater treatment plant, so that they can sell our own power back to us at a marked up price for them(SME). Real good deal, huh? Thank you commissioners! Here is the story from the tribune and also a link to the actual flawed contract that was approved over the objections by many residents:
Tribune Story - Contract Link
_________________________

City utility (ECP) falls short of its goal:
Tribune Story
_________________________

Highwood coal-fired plant has objectors within co-op membership:
Billingsgazette Story
_________________________

Commission O.K.'s utility plan for the proposed coal-fired plant:
Tribune Story
_________________________

Great Falls taxpayers paying the piper for electric city power: Tribune story

_________________________

Roundup coal-fired power plant back to square one: Story

_________________________

Coal rush reverses: Washington Post Story

_________________________

Lame duck city commissioners to hire new city manager in December: Tribune Story

_________________________

Commission tables city services proposal: Tribune Story

_________________________


Violations raise questions on coal-fired plants
-State officials are cracking down on a 116-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Hardin for continuing to pollute the air. Montana's Department of Environmental Quality is seeking $484,800 in penalties from Hardin Generating Station. Tribune Story

_________________________


9/5/07 Missoula explains pulling plug on ECP deal:
Tribune Story
8/30/07 Missoula, Helena and Boseman opt out of ECP deal:
Story
8/21/07 Montana PSC Commissioner speaks out on Missoula/ECP deal:
Story
8/21/07 Missoula still weighing options with Electric City Power:
Tribune Story
8/20/07 Coal_fired electricity for Missoula blasted:
The Missoulian Story

Click on this link for Missoula City Council contacts

_________________________


8/12/07 Why not wind instead of coal?:
Tribune Story

_________________________


8/3/07 It would appear the threat of being unseated this fall or being left in the minority has turned some City Commissioners minds-finally:
The city may change the three minute rule at the next meeting: Tribune Story

_________________________


7/30/2007 The Great Falls/Cascade County Historic Preservation Advisory Commission talks about the
Significance and fate of Portage Route National Historic Landmark: Click for Story

_________________________


The Rural Utilities Service (A branch of the Department of Agriculture) is sued:
Highwood power plant faces another lawsuit

_________________________


At a City Commission meeting July 3,
Brett Doney, president of the Great Falls Development Authority, said "I'm kind of a Lewis and Clark history buff," Doney told city commissioners. "Malmstrom Air Force Base and a good portion of the city of Great Falls have already been built on the Lewis and Clark route." A chunk of the original Lewis and Clark route was not included in the historic landmark because of construction that had taken place on top of it, including the Air Force base.
Hmmm, Kind of a Lewis & Clark history buff? "Kind of" is a stretch. Is he implying that the majority of the remaining site is not worth preserving? Come on Brett get with this communities real desires (No Coal Plant(s) here destroying our heritage and environment-ever).......

_________________________


The Tribune left out Doctor Running's
MAJOR comments to not build the Highwood Coal-Fired Plant. Here is the GF Tribune's incomplete report: Click for Story

_________________________

Move the proposed power plant: Click for Story

_________________________

SME gets the Gold Mine, Great Falls gets the "shaft": Click for Story

_________________________

CCE takes third place with float at Fort Benton parade: Click for Story / Click for Slideshow

_________________________

Couteau County Commissioners deliver "No Coal Plant" letter to Cascade County Commissioners: Click for Story

_________________________

More info on Ulm Ladies Abuse at City Commissioners Meeting: Click for Story

_________________________

Ulm Woman Suffers Three Minute Rule Consequences: Click for Story

_________________________

MEIC & CCE ask Montana regulators for BACT analysis on HGS: Click for Story

_________________________

Rescind the TIFF County Commissioners warned: Click for Story

_________________________

DEQ Air Permit for HGS appealed: Click for Story

_________________________

Rezoning of HGS site could take until fall: Click for Story

_________________________

Cascade County rescinds zoning for the Highwood Coal Plant: Click for Story

_________________________

Cascade County to invalidate zoning for the Highwood Coal Plant: Click for Story

______________________________________________________________

Rural Utilities Services (RUS) awaits funding: It will be up to Congress to decide on funding: Click for Story

______________________________________________________________

Federal Loans for Coal Plants: RUS building coal plants even as congress seeks ways to limit greenhouse gas emissions: Click for Story

______________________________________________________________

Record of Decision released by RUS, but the Highwood Coal-Burning Plant no slam dunk. HGS still faces very serious financial and engineering hurdles. In addition lawsuits against the plants zoning are still making there way through the 8th District Court. This ROD decision will be appealed and if necessary fought with additional legal actions accordingly: Click for Story

______________________________________________________________

Cable Channel 7 is presenting Professor Aart Dolman Speaking on "The impact of a coal plant on the Lewis & Clark National Historic Portage Site". This is being presented on the" Kelly Cyr Show" Friday May 11th at 7:30 PM and Sunday May 13th at 4:00 PM.

______________________________________________________________

Citizens for Clean Energy Inc. presents Tom Jackson's new documentary, “Out of Balance” on Tuesday, May 15, at 6:30 pm in the Great Falls Public Library. The hour long film is an expose´ of the oil giant, ExxonMobil and their influence on the US government and the public, delaying action against climate change. There will be a discussion with the audience afterward, to share ideas for what we can all do in response to climate change. This event is free and open to the public

______________________________________________________________

The "U.S. Department of Interior" position on: "The Highwood Coal-Fired Generation Plant" Click for Story

______________________________________________________________

IPCC Report on Global Warming: Click for Story

______________________________________________________________

Study links 700 deaths yearly to Maryland coal-fired plants: Click for Story

______________________________________________________________


Hearings begin on power line to Alberta
By KARL PUCKETT 3/27/07 Tribune Staff Writer
The first of three public hearings on a proposed power-transmission line between Great Falls and Lethbridge is today in Conrad.
Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. is proposing the 203-mile line, which would have a total capacity of 600 megawatts. About 130 miles of it would be in Montana.
Earlier this month, the state Department of Environmental Quality released a draft environmental-impact statement on the proposal, and the agency will take comments until April 9.
The project would spur new electricity-generating wind farms in the state because it would provide a connection to regional grids and new markets, according to the draft EIS.
At the meetings, DEQ officials will give brief presentations and then listen to testimony on "what we did right, what we did wrong and what we need to do to fix it if we did something wrong," said the DEQ's Tom Ring, an environmental specialist with the state's Major Facilities Siting Program.
The first meeting is at Norley Hall in Conrad, followed by a second Wednesday at the Glacier County Voting Center in Cut Bank. The final hearing is Thursday at the Great Falls Civic Center.
All of the meetings will be from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The DEQ's tentative preferred alternative is a mix of Alternative 2, which was preferred by developer Montana Alberta Tie, and Alternative 4, which the DEQ came up with.
Most of the line would have H-frame poles, but the preferred alternative calls for 24 miles of single-pole construction. The alternative also suggests changes so there are fewer acres of line crossing sections of land diagonally, which can cause headaches for farmers.
"We tried to reduce impacts where it seemed reasonably easy to do so, and the landowners came up with some good suggestions," Ring said.
The line would directly connect regional transmission systems in Montana and Alberta, allowing power to flow between the two. There currently isn't a connection. Additional transmission isn't necessary to serve Montana customers, but it is necessary for the viability of new-generation enterprises, such as wind farms, the EIS says.

______________________________________________________________

3/20/07-City again restricts Information and public input on the $720 Million dollar Coal Plant:

Critics claim the Highwood Generating Station is teetering on the edge of extinction because of rising costs. Supporters contend the coal-fired power plant proposed for east of Great Falls is in good shape financially. Find out what experts from the R.W. Beck engineering consulting firm think tonight as they discuss the feasibility of building the coal-fired plant. Beck representatives will speak for about an hour beginning at 5:30 p.m. at a Great Falls City Commission work session, in the commission chambers of the Civic Center, second floor, 2 Park Drive S.
Questions will be fielded by the consultants for about 20 minutes
following the one-hour presentation, beginning at about 6:30 p.m. No action will be taken by commissioners during the meeting.
The session originally had been scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Assistant City Manager Cheryl Patton explained the consultants had offered to talk for two hours, but City Manager John Lawton suggested a one-hour presentation would be more digestible.
Whether the power plant should be built has prompted controversy in the region, primarily over pollution worries, and the wisdom of placing the plant next to a Lewis and Clark national historic landmark. The explorers walked through the area after portaging around five waterfalls.
Financial and strategic issues surrounding the plant have also been debated in recent months. For instance, Beck analysts have pegged the costs to build and equip the Highwood plant at as much as $720 million, 40 percent higher than a $515 million estimate made a few years ago.
Beck also estimated coal costs would be 40 percent higher than projected in four years, and operating costs would be 88.5 percent higher than another firm, Stanley Consultants, had projected. Critics such as Great Falls accountant Larry Rezentes contend the heightened estimates threaten the viability of the project. But officials for the city of Great Falls, which would own one-fourth of the power plant, say the plant would still be able to produce competitively priced power. Tonight's meeting is expected to address whether the estimated price of electricity actually has gone from cheap to moderately priced. Some critics contend electricity produced by the plant is on the verge of becoming expensive; supporters argue the plant's power still will be attractively priced, especially with an expected upswing in electricity costs by 2011.
City officials asked members of the public to remember to ask specific questions of the experts during the
20-minute question-and-answer period, rather than give speeches. "We don't want narrative," Commissioner Diane Jovick-Kuntz said last week. Commissioner Sandy Hinz will officiate at the meeting; Mayor Dona Stebbins is out of town to accept an award from a housing group. The public also has a chance to make comments, for up to three minutes each, at the end of the commission's regular meeting. That meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the commission chambers.

______________________________________________________________

The contradictions never cease:

Last week Jordan Love, on behalf of the City of Great Falls, told the House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications committee that the city would be happy to comply with the 15% renewable energy standard “or better” that Northwestern Energy must abide by under the law. In a stark about face (no great surprise but we should call them on it whenever possible), yesterday in the same committee Rep. Robyn Driscoll from Billings had a bill to make Great Falls comply with the Renewable Energy Standard (15% by 2015). The city of Great Falls, through their lobbyist Joe Mazurek, OPPOSED the bill. When directly asked about Mr. Love’s testimony the week before, Mazurek beat around the bush. He did admit that Mr. Love said that and that he wasn’t authorized to retract that statement, but the city was opposed to the bill.

They can’t even keep their story straight from one week to the next. At least with Northwestern Energy the folks in Great Falls know that the PSC will make sure that some of their energy must come from renewables.

______________________________________________________________


For General Distribution from Pat Judge and Anne Hedges 2/6/07:
 
Last night, the House energy committee considered HB 25, one of the
session's big re-reg bills.  As expected, the SME/Electric City power people
had prepared an amendment that was offered by Rep. Thomas.  The purpose of
the amendment was to preserve the deregulated "customer choice" model, to
allow SME/ECP to continue to build up its customer base (in order to make
the over-sized coal plant viable).  The amendment failed, but just barely.
They will have another opportunity next Monday, when they will "re-hear" the
bill and again consider amendments.  The amendment died on a 6-6 vote -- all
they need is one more vote.  Here is a record of the vote:
 
In favor of the amendment:
Thomas -- spoke for it
Boggio
Driscoll
Rice
Jones
Stahl
 
Opposed to the amendment:
Olson -- spoke against it
Groesbeck -- spoke against it
Gallik -- spoke against it
Windy Boy
Himmelberger
Klock
 
I have no doubt that SME/ECP will be working VERY hard to pick up one or
more votes this week.  The issue of the amendment is essentially identical
to the issues being debated tomorrow in the two Kottel bills (HB 346 & HB 448).
I would strongly encourage people to come to Helena tomorrow.  Anne tried to
clarify the topic some, but the best way to gain a fuller understanding is
to
attend the hearing (contact us for rides & schedules). 

Here is Anne’s clarification:  Let me try to say this more simply (although it is complicated). Both bills provide a customer base for the Highwood Generating Station. A plant this size needs a large number of people to purchase the power to pay for the plant. Without these customers it probably won’t make economic sense to build the plant because it is uncertain who will pay for it. Currently the potential customers from the Great Falls area have their energy needs provided by Northwestern Energy. They are not allowed change from Northwestern.   These bills will allow (HB 448) or require (HB346) a large group of people in Great Falls to leave the Northwestern service area (and therefore PSC regulation and Montana Consumer Council protection). Northwestern is regulated by the PSC and is able to buy power more economically if it has more customers to serve. For Northwester it comes down to economies of scale. Simply put, if the Highwood Generating Station doesn’t have a large enough customer base, they won’t be able to repay the loans, and therefore might have a hard time getting financing. These bills give them the customer base they so desperately need.
Contact us for further information:

Citizens for Clean Energy
615 3
rd Ave. N.
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone:  406-455-6412
e-mail: lisa-hardiman@bresnan.net
website: http://www.cce-mt.org

______________________________________________________________


Sign the petition to effective global warming action.
Click here

______________________________________________________________

An excellent short clip on global warming. Click here

______________________________________________________________

This is a movie every person should see. Click here

______________________________________________________________

"Schweitzer said the Highwood Generating Station is a plant at the end of a technological era".

______________________________________________________________


This is Doctor Christensen's response to the article that appeared in last Sunday's Tribune 1/21/2007. That article was written by Jeffrey Chaffe a vice-president of Bison Engineering which is contracted by SME to promote the Highwood Coal Burning Plant:

Click to read "the rest of the story".

______________________________________________________________


At The City Commission meeting on January 16, 2007. The Mayor suddenly adjourned the meeting in the middle of the public comment period.

People were waiting to speak on various topics and are very upset with you Mayor
.

This mayor has a very serious problem with due democratic process and has seriously abused her oath of office........

Also see the "Rights Violated" page.

______________________________________________________________

Second lawsuit filed (1/11/2006) over rezoning issue on coal plant! Tribune Story

______________________________________________________________

(First lawsuit filed) Neighbors Sue Cascade County over Rezoning for Coal-fired Power Plant
GREAT FALLS – Today (Dec 22, 2006) 48 farmers, ranchers, homeowners, and local farm operations, and the Montana Environmental Information Center, filed suit against the Board of County Commissioners of Cascade County over the Commissioners’ decision to rezone an agricultural area that contains “farmland of statewide importance” to heavy industrial.

On November 29, 2006 the Commissioners voted 2-1 to approve a rezoning petition to change 840 acres of farmland in Cascade County from Agricultural (A-2) to Heavy Industrial (I-2). The stated purpose of the zone change is to allow the construction of the Highwood Generating Station, a 250-megawatt coal-fired power plant. The rezoning would radically change the agricultural and rural character of the area. The area is near the Missouri River and is located on a portion of Lewis and Clark’s Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark.

“We are disappointed that it has to come to this. We tried to tell the commissioners our concerns, but they didn’t listen. The law requires them to consider how this coal-fired power plant will affect our property and farming operations. The Commission just didn’t do that,” said Robert Lassila, who owns an organic farm adjacent to the rezoned property.

“If a coal plant is built in this area, I am concerned that 880 acres of prime farm land will be destroyed and I am worried about potential crop damage from pollution. This is an important agricultural area for the state. It should stay that way,” said Kent Holtz, a farmer with a dryland wheat and barley operation near the proposed coal plant.

“Cascade County adopted planning and zoning to protect the rural and agricultural character of this area. Unfortunately, it has now chosen to ignore those rules. As a result, the coal plant plans to build a rail line to the power plant across my land. That will have a real impact on my farming operations, the very operations that planning and zoning were supposed to protect,” said J.C. Kantorowicz, a nearby dryland wheat farmer who, together with his wife, own Meadowlark Farms.

“When we moved here we were attracted to the rural character of this community. The proposed coal plant, with its 400-foot smokestack, will forever change this community. The county commission was supposed to protect the property rights of those who already live here. We are disappointed it didn’t do that,” said Jaybe Floyd, a nearby homeowner.

“Coal-fired power plants require rail lines, water and sewer lines, access roads and more. This plant will emit over 3 million tons of air pollutants each year. The county is required to consider these impacts on neighboring property owners. It refused to do that,” said Anne Hedges of the Montana Environmental Information Center, a member-supported nonprofit organization concerned about the health and economic impacts of the proposed coal plant.

The suit was filed in State district court in Cascade County.
For More Information Contact:
Robert Lassila 406-727-8235
Kent Holtz 406-452-6565
J.C. Kantorowicz 406-788-0483
Jaybe Floyd 406-761-0503
Anne Hedges, MEIC, 406-443-2520

______________________________________________________________

Bold Challenge to County Commissioners: See Story