Gaelectric obtains funds for Montana wind power expansion

Ireland’s Gaelectric has raised $18m from private European equity sources to book 960MW of transmission capacity for its planned wind energy development projects in the US state of Montana.

Gaelectric North America has announced that the funds raised have been placed on deposit with transmission system operators, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and NorthWestern Energy (NWE), to book transmission capacity on their networks. Wind power is expected to flow in the period 2014 to 2016.

"States like Montana, which have high quality wind regimes and that have historically confronted sizeable transmission development barriers, will now reap that value in a shorter timeframe,” says Eamonn McGrath, president of Gaelectric North America.

He notes that Gaelectric is the first wind developer in Montana to book transmission capacity at a scale which will allow renewable power to be exported from some of the state’s best wind energy sites directly to markets in the US Pacific Northwest.

McGrath cites one study showing that Montana has the lowest cost of wind energy production overall among the 12 US western states.

He says Gaelectric’s fundraising round generated “significant interest” among European lenders. This will enable the company to work with funding partners to “realise significant wind generation and other renewables projects that form the basis of our strategy and work programmes."

Gaelectric begin operations in North America in 2006 with a head office in Great Falls, Montana. In that state, it has secured about 250,000 acres of land under options in high wind resource areas. It has a medium term objective of bringing up to 2000MW of wind generation capacity to “shovel ready” stage.