Ramboll acted as adviser and technical consultant for one of the world’s largest onshore wind farms in Montana, USA. The Judith Gap wind farm is an 180MW onshore wind farm that supplies approximately 50,000 households with renewable energy. It features 90 GE wind turbines with a total nameplate capacity of 135MW. It was completed in 2005. Ramboll provided designs and expert reports, managed the permitting and procurement process, and supervised implementation.
3... Wind measurement analysis and wind farm design
Based on a two year wind measurement campaign at three different locations in Montana, the obtained data was analysed and the best site chosen. The location near Judith Gap in Wheatland County, Montana proved to be a Class 6 site, showing outstanding and consistent wind speeds between 17 and 19 mph.
2... Land control and permitting process
The total land area required to build a wind farm of that size was already secured in 2001, originally for the purpose of exploration with the option to install wind turbines at a later date. A section of the land belonged to the State of Montana, with the remainder belonging to private landowners. All owners share the profits from the wind farm by the way of land lease agreements.
Being the first onshore wind farm in Montana, the development of Judith Gap Wind Farm required a significant degree of administrative work and political lobbying in addition to the technical consulting typically associated with wind farm development. A particularly rewarding challenge was to liaise with the Air Force Department and the State Historic Preservation Office, as they had particularly unique concerns in relation to the project. Appropriate win-win solutions had to be found in order to address these concerns.
1... Grid connection
A 230 kV high voltage line crosses the site and allows a grid connection with a capacity of up to 180MW. Interconnection studies were completed by the local utility company Northwestern Energy and a Generation Interconnection Agreement was developed and approved. The Wheatland County Commissioners strongly supported the project, which would not only add over $ 1,200,000 per year to the taxable value of the county, but also bring in a substantial work force for its construction and maintenance.
GO!... RFP and PPA
Ramboll submitted three alternative proposals for on-shore wind farms of different sizes (50MW, 75MW and 100MW) as the original Request For Proposal (RFP) did not specify a target size. Infrastructure layouts and costs were calculated for all project sizes. Within different RFP rounds we were able to limit potential technical risks (e.g. energy yields, losses, selected technology) through bankable data and assessments as well as through optimized wind farm layouts. In the end, our client was awarded the power purchase agreement. The Judith Gap Wind Farm features 90 GE wind turbines with a capacity of 135 MW. However, it is possible to extend the capacity of wind farm to 190 MW.
The cooperation with Arcadia Wind Power LLC, a specialist within financial sourcing in the wind industry, played a vital role in the negotiations with the utility and power companies.