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Missoulian State Bureau HELENA - Gov. Judy Martz signed into law Tuesday a tax-incentive bill that some Montana Indian leaders say will help their tribes move forward with plans to create commercial wind farms.

House Bill 643, by Rep. Carol Juneau, D-Browning, extends Montana's existing wind-energy tax credit from seven to 15 years for wind farms based on Indian reservations.

Pat Smith, a Missoula attorney who represents tribal interests, said officials on the Fort Peck and Blackfeet reservations have already begun working on wind projects. Smith said the timing of this measure fits perfectly with Montana's need for more energy production and the tribes worked to be included as part of the solution to the state's power woes.

Tribal leaders issued written statements Tuesday lauding the signing, saying it would provide further incentives to harness the wind power that abounds in certain parts of the state.

"Montana reservations have some of the best wind energy sites in the nation," said Fort Peck Chairman Arlyn Headdress. "We need the energy, the revenue and the jobs - and wind energy is clean and renewable."

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