Dozens of wind turbines are being considered for installation in the Crazy Mountains, stirring controversy among those who live in the area.
Pattern Energy has plans to install 500-foot wind turbines between the Yellowstone River and the mountain range. The turbines would span parts of Park and Sweet Grass counties.
Many Montanans living close to the Crazy Mountains—and even ones who don’t—have signed a petition put together by the Crazy Mountain Neighbor Coalition to stop the wind turbine project that has been proposed.
Robyn Roberts came to Montana 18 years ago because of the beauty of the mountains and the land. While traveling on Interstate 90, she enjoys the scenery of the Crazy Mountains as many do.
“People live, I believe, in that county to enjoy what Mother Nature provided and this will destroy it. It’ll profoundly affect the community,” said Roberts.
Roberts believes this controversial issue stems from county government. A public meeting with the planning department continues to be postponed.
“One of the problems is the community leaders don’t have any say about this. They have no tools to work with, no zoning, no ordinances or anything. And they are just letting it happen and they’re not representing the people. It’s frightening, really, that they can just bulldoze their way in and do what they want to do,” Roberts said.
In a statement to MTN News, Pattern Energy said:
“Crazy Mountain Wind will support up to 100 jobs during construction and approximately six full-time positions here in the community once operational. The land on which the project will be operated will provide a valuable source of revenue to the Montana families who will continue to own and ranch their lands as they have done for multiple generations. The project will generate over $18 million in property taxes over its life with $14 million of that amount staying in the local counties to help support local community schools and county services – and it will produce enough clean energy to power more than 26,000 homes in Montana every year without any emissions or water use.”
Roberts said, “the wind companies come in and tell you a story. They’re going to provide tax revenues and such but they don’t tell you the downside of that, which is substantial. There are lost opportunities for businesses, there’s lost opportunity in terms of tourism and it’ll lower our quality of life.”
The wind turbines are currently on hold due to a lawsuit from neighbors, claiming their property would have decreased value with the turbines obstructing their view.
The petition put together by the Crazy Mountain Neighbor Coalition currently has more than 200 signatures from people across the state. Pattern Energy anticipates construction will begin in the spring of 2020.
Reporting by Emma Hamilton for MTN News