NorthWestern Energy plans to buy a 24 MW wind project in north central Montana to be developed and constructed by Invenergy Wind Development Montana LLC, a unit of Invenergy Wind LLC.

The project was submitted to NorthWestern in response to a 2009 community renewable resource solicitation. The utility said it is consistent with recent Montana legislation that provides for the utility's reintegration. The project is to be built on a portion of Invenergy's proposed 200 MW Big Otter Wind Energy Project site near Belt, Mont. Plans call for it to be placed into the utility's rate base, with both the energy and associated renewable energy credits used to meet future renewable portfolio standard obligations.

Execution of a definitive agreement is expected in the first quarter of 2011. Submission of an application for pre-approval by the Montana Public Service Commission would follow, with an anticipated decision in early 2012. Construction would commence upon a favorable ruling, with commercial operation projected to begin by the end of 2012.

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