NorthWestern Energy has signed a memorandum of understanding to buy a 24MW wind power project near Belt in north central Montana to be developed and constructed by Invenergy Wind.

The project will be built on a portion of Invenergy’s proposed 200MW Big Otter Wind Energy Project site.

Execution of a definitive agreement is expected in the first quarter of this year and the wind project is expected to begin commercial operation by the end of 2012.

The project will be placed into NorthWestern’s rate base, with both the energy and associated renewable energy credits used to meet future renewable portfolio standard obligations.

NorthWestern provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest US, serving approximately 661,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.