The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has released draft rules detailing the process and requirements for bonding large wind power facilities in Montana.
According to the DEQ, the 2017 legislature passed H.B.216, sponsored by State Rep. Jim Keane, D-Mont., who seeks to ensure that the wind industry is responsible for the proper decommissioning of facilities at least 25 MW in size.
Under the new rules, wind facilities would be the first power producers in Montana required by statute to post a bond, says the DEQ. The intent of the law and its companion rules is to ensure there is money available to decommission the projects and associated infrastructure for the purpose of restoring impacted lands at the end of a facility’s useful life. The new rules would also ensure disturbed lands are restored to comparable productivity given the existing character and nature of the site, the department says.
Wind facilities would be required to be bonded within 15 years from the start of operation, unless they began operation prior to Jan. 1, 2007; then, they are required to be bonded in 16 years. DEQ will review a facility’s bond amount every five years to ensure it is still adequate. The rules also state when a bond can be released and how the department would forfeit a bond if necessary to conduct decommission activities.
“Our state has untapped wind resources ready for development, and DEQ and the Montana legislature recognize the value it brings to our citizens and communities,” says Chris Dorrington, the DEQ’s Air, Energy & Mining Division administrator. “In line with legislative intent, these rules will ensure proper reclamation of lands used by wind facilities and serve to protect landowners and citizens of Montana from incurring costs.”
The DEQ, which is now accepting public comment, says it worked with stakeholders in early October while developing the proposed rules. A public hearing will be held on Nov. 29. More information on the hearing and how to submit comments can be found here.