(Montana Community Affordable Renewable Energy Saves)
Authors of “Montana’s Renewable Portfolio” (p.1) note:
“2015 marks the tenth anniversary of Montana’s Renewable Power Production and Rural Economic Development Act of 2005, also known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). It also marks the final step in the RPS, now requiring public utilities (and other competitive electricity providers) to purchase 15% of their retail power from renewable resources. The Act succeeded by providing the foundation for development of new, clean, beneficial, and cost effective energy resources in Montana while stimulating the economy. During this decade, wind power has grown from zero to 6.5% of Montana’s electricity generation. This figure is less than 15% because total generation includes power not regulated under the RPS such as generation for power exports and to supply rural electric cooperatives.”
Their study identified 1,685 megawatts (MW) of nameplate wind capacity planned and technically feasible in Montana between 2016 and 2020, which would mean 2,300 MW of capacity here, “adding $55 million to Gross State Product and 300 jobs to yearly employment.” (p.2)
There is no present statewide mandate to move beyond a 15% RPS. If renewable energy investment is to continue creating jobs in Montana, it will need commitment on our part to expand the RPS requirement.
Therefore, acting independently from others quoted herein or interested in curbing climate change in a responsible manner, I created MTCARES as a non-partisan organization to give voters reasons to sign and vote for ballot initiative I – 180.
- I-180 is intended to mitigate the effects
of global warming that are eliminating the 23 glaciers like Grinnell (pictured on the right) still existing in Glacier Park.
- It’ll reduce the amount of CO2 released when generating electricity. It extends 2006 law that required Montana’s investor-owned utilities to generate 15% of their power from non-greenhouse gas producing sources (e.g., wind and solar) by 2015.
- I-180 gradually increases the renewable energy in their generation mix to 33%, by 2025 to 50% by 2030, and then to 80% by 2050. This helps put the RPS in compliance with the requirements of the EPA clean power plan which requires reducing CO2 emissions by 47% by 2030.
- It extends the definition of “community renewable energy project.”
- After the percent of renewable energy from sources installed since 2005 plus the hydro power installed prior to 2005 reaches 80% (likely 2025 in the case of NorthWestern Energy), it allows water power from older projects to be included in calculating the required amount of renewable energy for following years — this is necessary because one utility has a lot of water power resources and any other requirement would not make sense for it.
- Section 69-3-2008 preserves the cooperative exemption while making it easier for cooperatives to reach voluntary goals set by members.
- It creates retraining, enhanced unemployment benefits, and pension security for workers displaced by society’s transition to clean energy.
Community Affordable Renewable Energy Saves
I-180 allows Montana’s farmers, ranchers, and utility consumers to earn extra income from wind and solar power installed on their land.
It’ll keep power costs low:
- limiting additional costs of transitioning to renewable electricity generation to 2%;
- eliminating considerable fossil fuel expense from present-day bills; and
- limiting the electricity production tax used to replace Montana’s coal severance tax . A small increase $2.40/year for average electricity consumers will help pay for retraining displaced fossil-fuel workers and enhanced unemployment compensation to them during the retraining period.
- For a more detailed explanation of what is in I-180 and the tax to replace Montana’s coal severance tax (which will not raise what it now raises as coal use dwindles) click EXPLANATION OF I-180
This page updated on 1/23/2016