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Reed Point rancher says Puget Sound Energy's wind farm will help land owners

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Posted at 9:51 PM, Dec 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-18 11:31:04-05

Puget Sound Energy, which owns the largest share in the Colstrip power plant, has unveiled plans to construct 96 wind turbines on private land, north of Interstate 90 between Columbus and Reed Point.

The Eder family and several other landowners will have towers.

The company says it will start construction next year and have the windmills ready to go in 2025.

“It's peaceful,” said Loren Eder. “It's quiet. You have the mountains to look at. It's just a downhome way to live.”

But changes could be coming to Eder’s ranch.

“Without a doubt, the windmills will change the scenery,” Eder said.

Puget Sound Energy prepares to begin construction on a 248 megawatt wind farm.

“Farmers and ranchers are looking for ways to supplement their income and to be able to continue to operate and pay their bills and I think Dad was that same way,” Eder said.

Eder now lives in town but his dad, Delbert, had been involved in the project since it was first a concept 20 years ago.

He passed away in 2021.

“I think he'd be very happy to see it happening,” Eder said.

But in the last decade, while it didn't benefit the Eders directly, Stillwater Wind constructed a smaller facility.

As for the Beaver Creek project, several concrete pads for the turbines were actually poured a few years ago, but construction was halted due to supply chain issues and costs.

“We're very excited about the opportunity,” said Jim Hogan, Puget Sound Energy director of special projects. “This will be one of the first projects that we bring online since our goal of going carbon neutral has come into place.”

Power produced here will be shipped out of state.

The 248 megawatts is enough to power 83,000 homes for a year.

“Our wind farm will connect to Northwestern and then the Northwestern transmission system will eventually bring it back to the Puget Sound region,” said Hogan.

Montana will benefit economically with the wind farm expected to contribute $150 million in taxes to Stillwater County, according to Hogan.

But Eder has heard concerns.

“It's going to have an effect on the grazing,” Eder said.

Even so, there may be more projects in Montana for Puget Sound Energy.

“We're always looking at projects and I can't say much more than that,” Hogan said. “But Montana has an incredible wealth of resources when it comes to wind and solar .”