HELENA – The 2017 Legislature passed HB 216, requiring bonding of large wind-powered electric generating facilities in Montana. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality today released draft rules detailing the process and requirements for bonding and is now accepting public comment. These facilities will be the first power producers in Montana required by statute to post a bond.
The intent of the law and its companion rules are to ensure there is money available to decommission large facilities' wind turbine towers and other associated infrastructure for the purpose of restoring impacted lands at the end of a facility’s useful life. The new rules also ensure disturbed lands are restored to comparable productivity given the existing character and nature of the site.
Wind facilities are 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.
Representative Jim Keane from Butte sponsored HB 216 during the 2017 legislative session. The intent of the bill was to ensure that the relatively new wind industry is responsible for the proper decommissioning of facilities.
“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,” said Chris Dorrington, DEQ 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.”
DEQ worked with stakeholders in early October while developing the proposed rules and will hold a public hearing on November 29, 2017. The hearing will begin with an information session at 1:00 pm in Room 111 of the Metcalf Building, 1520 East Sixth Avenue in Helena, to discuss and answer questions on the proposed rules. The formal hearing will begin at 2:00 pm to accept oral public comment. The 2017 Legislature requires DEQ to have these rules adopted by January 1, 2018.
Interested persons may submit their comments, either orally or in writing, at the hearing. Comments, including written data, views or arguments may also be submitted to Sandy Scherer, Legal Secretary, Department of Environmental Quality, 1520 E. Sixth Avenue, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, Montana 59620-0901; faxed to 406-444-4386; or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than 5:00 pm, December 7, 2017. To be guaranteed consideration, mailed comments must be postmarked on or before that date.
To view the proposed rules visit DEQ's website at: http://deq.mt.gov/DEQAdmin/dir/legal/hearing For the statute behind these rules, 75-26-301 through 75-26-310, MCA, visit: http://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/title_0750/chapter_0260/part_0030/sections_index.html, or contact Julie Ackerlund at 406-444-4267 or: email@example.com For information about wind energy in Montana visit: http://deq.mt.gov/Energy/renewableenergy/resourcesandtechnology/Wind