Montana’s New Energy Plan Focuses On Wind Power Potential

Posted by Betsy Lillian on June 22, 2016 No Comments
Categories : Policy Watch

Gov. Steve Bullock, D-Mont., has announced a new blueprint for Montana’s energy future. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which is praising the governor’s plan, the blueprint recognizes the value of a stronger electricity grid and the expansion of wind power in the state.

In recent weeks, Bullock says he met with wind and solar developers, energy efficiency advocates, small businesses and coal workers in order to gather input and perspective from all sectors of the energy industry.

Specifically, the governor plans to develop legislation and an appropriate funding mechanism in coordination with the Department of Environmental Quality, the legislature and other stakeholders to establish an energy infrastructure authority based on the recommendation of the Energy and Utilities Key Industry Network (Main Street Montana Project).

In addition, the plan calls for working with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to review and bolster Montana’s transmission opportunities in delivering power to out-of-state markets – a move needed to bring Montana’s electricity to strong and growing markets for renewable energy, says AWEA.

Montana’s wind turbines, totaling 665 MW of capacity, produce enough electricity to power nearly 180,000 average homes; however, according to AWEA, the state’s current wind energy capacity barely scratches the surface of what’s possible. Citing DOE analysis, AWEA says Montana wind resources have the vast potential to power 6.4 million average homes by 2030.

The new plan also emphasizes continued support for Montana’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which can help the state reach its wind energy potential while creating significant economic and environmental benefits, notes AWEA. In addition, governor says the plan will continue to “defend against attacks from the legislature” on the RPS.

“Gov. Bullock’s energy blueprint provides the framework for Montana to develop its world-class wind resource and capture a significant portion of the region’s rapidly expanding markets for wind power,” says Tom Darin, senior director for Western state policy at AWEA. “The governor’s plan has the right focus on specific state actions and transmission upgrades to expand Montana’s historically strong export economy and significantly increase wind energy as part of Montana’s diverse energy portfolio. This combination will enable Montana to realize substantial economic development and consumer savings benefits from new wind projects.”

More on the energy blueprint can be found here.

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