Silverthorn Wind will be located in Rosebud and Treasure counties, Montana. Developed jointly by Pattern Energy and Talen Energy, the wind project is being designed as a 600 MW facility that will provide economic benefits and jobs that will last generations.
Talen Energy is a privately-owned Independent Power Producer (IPP) that generates and sells electricity, capacity, and related products from a fleet of power plants that use diverse fuel sources including zero-carbon nuclear, clean, and flexibly dispatched natural gas, and efficient, resilient coal. Talen is developing a large-scale portfolio of renewable energy, battery storage, and digital infrastructure assets across its expansive footprint. Silverthorn Wind will help further diversify Talen’s generation portfolio, adding renewable energy to its fleet.
Talen Energy operates 19 generation facilities across 6 states, which produce over 13,000 megawatts of electricity. Talen’s plants have long-term connections with their communities and their facilities receive industry-leading performance rankings, from operations to safety and commercial management.
Pattern Energy is one of the nation’s largest private renewable energy companies, with a proven track record achieved through local and intentional engagement and support in the communities where we have a presence. Headquartered in the United States, Pattern Energy is in the business of building opportunity and that work starts with listening to local communities, developing relationships on the ground, and tailoring benefit programs to each community. Our business is guided by commitments to safety, serving our customers, protecting the environment, strengthening communities, and creating shared value.
Silverthorn Wind LLC is a project-level company that owns the assets related to our wind energy efforts located in Rosebud and Treasure counties. Silverthorn Wind LLC is jointly owned by Pattern Energy and Talen Energy.
Silverthorn Wind represents a roughly $1 billion investment within Rosebud and Treasure counties. Throughout development, construction, and operations, residents can expect to see direct and indirect job creation, economic investment, and tax revenue.
Construction of the wind project will inject millions of dollars into the economy while utilizing local materials and creating local jobs. During the approximately 18-month construction period, it is estimated that the wind project will result in 450 – 600 new construction jobs, including heavy equipment operators, electricians, laborers, and others. After construction, 12 – 16 full-time local jobs will be created by the wind project to operate and maintain the wind and solar facilities. New jobs during both the construction and operation phases create increased earnings for the county as well as increased demand for local vendors and services, including lodging, food services, gas, groceries, and others.
Will locals have the opportunity to supply goods and services to the project or to be employed in the long-term management of the facility?
Yes! Silverthorn Wind and our contractors take our commitments to the local communities where we build our projects very seriously. We will actively seek out local vendors and job applicants during development and hold a job fair prior to construction to engage interested companies and workers. We will keep a list of interested applicants and vendors during project development to share with the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) company that is selected to hire subcontractors for construction. We will also establish a vendor and worker application portal.
Silverthorn Wind will encourage our contractors to hire locally to the greatest extent possible. We will also support the community through sponsorships of local causes. Please reach out to us at Outreach@SilverthornRenewables.com if you have suggestions on how we can better engage with the community members and support local initiatives.
The development period (prior to construction of the wind farm) includes many important steps, including obtaining land rights, collecting meteorological data, performing environmental studies, and obtaining local permits, to name a few. This can typically take anywhere from two to five years and even longer in some cases. We are currently targeting the commencement of construction as early as 2024. Depending on factors such as seasonal conditions and final project design, construction is expected to last between 1-2 years.
No. Wind turbines do not produce any greenhouse gas emissions, water discharges, or solid waste byproducts.
Today, the cost of wind energy is competitive with other energy sources and the cheapest source of new electricity in many parts of the country. Additionally, the cost of electricity from wind energy is predictable and stable as there are no fuel costs, unlike conventional forms of energy where the cost of fuel can fluctuate significantly over time.
The project is not receiving government grants or other direct payments from taxpayers. Like nearly all infrastructure in the US (including Oil and Gas), the project’s owner will receive federal tax credits for a portion of the project value. For wind energy this is called the Production Tax Credit.
Wind turbines in Montana are expected to generate energy between 80-90% of the time in an average year. Wind forecasting technology makes wind energy easier to predict and more reliable than ever before. Electric grids are designed to handle variability in both demand and supply. Because of the natural variations in demand, the electric grid always has more power available than it needs in the form of reserves. During a power plant outage – whether a conventional plant or a wind plant – backup is provided by the entire interconnected utility system.
No power plant operates 100% of the time. There are periods when power plants shut down for maintenance and repairs and times when resources run low or unexpected outages occur. At some conventional power plants, the entire plant may have to be shut down for repairs, whereas wind farm maintenance takes place one turbine at a time, without having to shut down the entire plant.
No. For more than 40 years people have been living near more than 350,000 wind turbines operating globally and more than 50,000 wind turbines operating in North America. There is no scientific evidence indicating that wind turbines have caused any adverse health effects. Overall, health and medical agencies agree that the sound from wind turbines is not loud enough to cause hearing impairment and is not causally related to adverse effects.
Scientific evidence to date, including the twenty-five peer-reviewed studies referenced in “Summary of Main Conclusions Reached in 25 Reviews of the Research Literature on Wind Farms and Health” compiled by Professor Simon Chapman and Teresa Simonetti of the Sydney University Medical School, indicates that at common residential setback distances there is no direct health risk from wind turbine noise, including low-frequency noise and infrasound.
Wind turbine sounds are not unique. Based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds, a multidisciplinary scientific advisory panel comprised of medical doctors, audiologists, and acoustical professionals concluded that there is no evidence the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.
The Silverthorn Wind team will strive to minimize impacts to the land during construction to the greatest extent possible. Most of the impacts during construction are temporary and will be restored upon completion of construction. Each wind turbine typically needs less than one acre of land after construction, allowing landowners to continue farming and ranching around them. We work with farmers and ranchers when siting wind turbines, access roads, and collection lines to minimize impact to crops, grazing, and other farming and ranching operations.
We recognize that tiling is an extremely important element of agricultural practices in the area and will work to prevent and/or mitigate agricultural impacts associated with the construction process. If there are current GPS coordinates of all drainage tiles, those would be used to assess the site before construction commences and tiles would be avoided to the greatest extent reasonable. Drainage tiles that are affected near the wind turbine sites are re-routed around the foundation area. We will complete repairs to tiles cut or damaged during the construction process in a timely manner in accordance with the terms of our leases.
Turbine foundation excavations will be performed in a manner to preserve topsoil. Subsoils that are excavated to install the turbine foundation structure will be used to backfill the foundation and will be redistributed around the turbine after construction. If there is excess material that is not needed for fill on roads or other places in the project area, it will be removed unless otherwise agreed to by the landowner.
A stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) that includes an erosion control plan will be developed by the general contractor and verified by Pattern Energy and Talen Energy. The SWPPP will be reviewed by multiple agencies and will need to be approved before construction begins.
The condition of public roads that are expected to be utilized during construction is documented prior to the start of construction activities. All public roads impacted by the construction of the renewable energy projects will be returned to the same or better condition after construction activities. This arrangement is documented and memorialized through a Public Road Use Agreement with the local road engineers at the County level.
The Lease agreement covers road use provisions in full. The developer will identify any new or pre-existing roads that will possibly be used for the maintenance of the project. Whether the road is pre-existing or newly installed, the developer is fully responsible for the upkeep and any damages incurred to those roads during operation of the project. Proposed road maps will be delivered and discussed with each landowner prior to the construction of the wind farm.
During construction, there will be additional traffic in the area as construction of the wind farm will require heavy equipment, which could include bulldozers, graders, trenching machines, concrete trucks, flatbed trucks, and large cranes. Once construction of the wind farm is complete and the project is operational, traffic will return to its pre-construction levels.
Yes, Silverthorn Wind plans to set aside a bond for decommissioning the wind farm at the end of its useful life or, in the very unlikely scenario that the company goes out of business or is unable to continue operating the project. A decommissioning plan must be put in place with Montana DEQ within 12 months after the start of project operation and the project lease has included these requirements contractually for decommissioning. Provisions for removal of turbines and infrastructure, provisions for land restoration, and provisions for Silverthorn Wind to provide financial assurance, accessible by the Montana DEQ, to carry out the decommissioning are all captured as requirements in the lease.
Please reference the Montana DEQ website for further information. http://deq.mt.gov/Energy/renewableenergy/Wind
Should Pattern Energy and Talen Energy sell their interest in the wind farm, will the “new owner” be held to the same terms for removal of infrastructure and decommission of towers?
Yes. Any owner or owners would be required to continuously comply with the terms of the Lease and further, as a condition of any sale, would need to be fully qualified to own and operate a large-scale wind project.
Previous developers had mentioned that projects such as this would be difficult due to the area’s lack of transmission. Is that no longer true?
The Silverthorn Wind team is working with federal, regional, and state entities to finalize the specific path to market utilizing the existing 500kV transmission capability near Colstrip, MT.
I recently met a land agent working on behalf of Silverthorn Wind LLC. How are they connected to Silverthorn Wind?
Agents in the field are employed as direct contractors representing Silverthorn Wind LLC to assist us with our mission to meet face-to-face with as many landowners as possible. Connecting with landowners and beginning the process of discussing land lease details is an important stage for us as it allows us to communicate directly with the community about this project – these agents are allowing us to broaden our reach and expand this process given their significant experience in Montana and the Northwest in general.
Please reach out to our project team with questions, any time via our phone number at 406-206-7546 or email address, Outreach@SilverthornRenewables.com.