Support MREA

Blog

Committee Bill Will Improve Access to Tax Credits

Committee Bill Will Improve Access to Tax Credits

Policy & Advocacy
The Montana Legislative Interim Committees are wrapping up nearly 18 months of work researching issues, discussing draft legislation, and preparing for the next legislative session. This interim, MREA was monitoring the work of two committees – the Energy & Telecommunications Interim Committee and the Revenue Interim Committee. In this post, we focus on the work and outcomes of the Revenue Interim Committee. Capitol Building, Helena The Revenue Interim Committee generally does not address renewable energy issues. However, the Committee is conducting a multi-year review of all of Montana’s income tax credits, which includes Montana’s renewable energy tax credits. The Committee is tasked with researching each credit to decide whether to make any changes. The alternative energy systems credit is used by hundreds of Montanans every year to help pay for…
Read More
Protecting Common Sense Installation Design at the PSC

Protecting Common Sense Installation Design at the PSC

Industry & Technical, Policy & Advocacy
Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (“SGIP”) are the technical documents used by the utility and by solar, wind, and other energy developers to guide how energy systems are interconnected to the utility grid. They cover everything from the application forms and paperwork that need to be filed, all the way down to the safety standards for the equipment used. It covers net metering customers, but also larger systems. Recently, the Montana Public Service Commission opened a docket related to these guiding documents that addressed the nuanced but important definition of a "premises", which impacts how renewable energy systems could be designed. MREA weighed in on this docket to ensure the definition does not restrict common sense installations. Read MREA's Full Comments on the Premises Definition How is premises defined in statute,…
Read More
Delayed Action on Renewable Energy Tax Credits

Delayed Action on Renewable Energy Tax Credits

Policy & Advocacy
During its April 29th meeting, the Revenue Interim Committee of the Montana Legislature discussed the state's tax credit that supports small-scale renewable energy installations (like rooftop solar and small wind). This discussion is part of a multi-year, holistic review of all of Montana's income tax credits as directed by House Bill 723 from the 2019 Legislative Session. The Committee will review a handful of income tax credits each interim over the next several years. The Committee is tasked with looking at each credit and deciding whether to amend, repeal, or do nothing and leave the credit as-is. Despite a robust discussion about the credit, the committee delayed action until its next meeting. The Alternative Energy Systems Tax credit was the credit up for discussion, which allows Montanans up to $500 per taxpayer…
Read More
Takeaways from the 2019 National Solar Jobs Census (Part 2)

Takeaways from the 2019 National Solar Jobs Census (Part 2)

Industry & Technical
It's become an annual tradition here at MREA to celebrate the release of The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census report, which was released earlier this year. Read on for MREA's analysis of the 2019 Census! This is Part 2 of a 2 part series. Part 1 focused on National Trends. Part 2 focuses on specific takeaways for Montana. Quick Look: Montana Industry Metrics 2019 Solar Jobs: 308 Solar businesses: 42 Year to Year % Growth in Solar Jobs: 12.7% 2019 Solar Jobs Rank by State: 49 2019 Solar Jobs per Capita Rank by State: 43 2019 Solar Companies Rank by State: 42 [caption id="attachment_2723" align="aligncenter" width="427"] Source: The Solar Foundation[/caption] The State of Solar in Montana Montana's solar industry continued its multi-year trend of growth, showing an increase of…
Read More
Net Metering: So, what happens now?

Net Metering: So, what happens now?

Education and Information, Policy & Advocacy
Last Thanksgiving, distributed generation consumers and advocates had something to truly give thanks for: a unanimous (5-0) decision by the Montana Public Service Commission (MPSC) adopting MREA/Vote Solar's proposal to maintain net energy metering ("net metering", "NEM") rates and rate structures. The MPSC rejected a utility proposal that would have made it impossible for net metering customers installing rooftop solar and small wind, for example, to save money on their energy bills. The ruling was a huge win, but the question remains: so, what happens now? In short: nothing - and that's a great thing! We explore the more detailed answer to that question below. Read on for a look at net metering and what to expect in the coming months and years. Before we begin... A clarifying reminder that net…
Read More
Takeaways from the 2019 National Solar Jobs Census (Part 1)

Takeaways from the 2019 National Solar Jobs Census (Part 1)

Industry & Technical
It's become an annual tradition here at MREA to celebrate the release of The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census report, which came out just this week. How do we celebrate? We top off our coffee, read through the Report, and do a happy dance celebrating the growth solar is seeing around the country. Read on for MREA's analysis of the 2019 Census! This is Part 1 of a 2 part series. Part 1 focuses on national trends from the Census. Part 2, which will be published after The Solar Foundation releases their state-specific data in March, will focus on takeaways and trends specifically for Montana.  15 Facts from the National Solar Jobs Census 1. Solar is a national industry: though market sizes vary considerably, the solar industry has a presence…
Read More
Show Me the Money: Financing and Incentive Updates and Changes in 2020

Show Me the Money: Financing and Incentive Updates and Changes in 2020

Education and Information, Special Programs
As the cost of renewable energy continues to drop, more Montanans are choosing to install distributed energy systems like rooftop solar and small wind. When considering an installation, there are important financing and incentive options to keep in mind. Some of these have gone through some changes - or nearly so - in the past year. In this blog post, we highlight three updates and changes to important financing and incentives that Montanans should be aware of as you look to install small solar and wind systems at your home, business, farm or ranch in 2020 and beyond. Net metering – Update: no changes! On November 25th, 2019 the Montana Public Service Commission (MPSC) ruled in favor of MREA and Vote Solar, preserving rooftop solar and unanimously rejecting Northwestern Energy's…
Read More
Montana PSC Rejects Changes to Net Metering In Win for Montanans, Local Jobs, and Clean Energy

Montana PSC Rejects Changes to Net Metering In Win for Montanans, Local Jobs, and Clean Energy

Policy & Advocacy
Victory! NorthWestern Energy’s anti-solar proposal rejected by unanimous vote HELENA, MT – In a vote of 5-0, the Montana Public Service Commission supported clean energy jobs and the right of Montanans to harness clean electricity from their own solar panels. The Commission rejected NorthWestern Energy’s proposal to end net metering, implement a separate rate class, and impose punitive demand charge rates for rooftop solar customers. That proposal would have penalized Montana families who invest in rooftop solar and sent solar jobs to other states. Instead, the Commission preserved net metering that allows current and future solar customers to offset their electricity purchases by receiving credit when they send clean energy back to the grid. NorthWestern Energy is by and far Montana’s largest electric utility. “Montanans value self-reliance and resilience, two important…
Read More
PSC to rule on rates for solar customers

PSC to rule on rates for solar customers

Policy & Advocacy
The Public Service Commission will be holding a work session at their offices in Helena on Monday, November 25th at noon to discuss the remaining unresolved issues in the rate case. At this meeting, they will be discussing net metering, among other issues like decoupling and demand-side management programs, and will be making oral rulings on these issues. As a reminder, the oral rulings are different than the final order. The final order is expected to come out later in December. The date that the final order is issued is the earliest that any changes could go into place. So, we will know their decision on these issues before they issue the final order. The meeting will begin with public comment and then the PSC will begin their discussions. The…
Read More
Clean Energy Fair Slideshow

Clean Energy Fair Slideshow

Special Programs
Thank you, Bozeman, for another successful Fair! We were thrilled at the turnout, and enjoyed an excellent day with experts, advocates, and supporters of all things renewable energy. Thank you to our generous sponsors, the businesses who took the time to table at the event, the electric vehicle owners who put their cars on display, the and all of the Montanans who came to the Fair. Please enjoy some of the photos from the Fair below! In 2020 MREA will be celebrating our 20th anniversary as an organization and our 10th year organization the Montana Clean Energy Fair. To honor the occasion, we will be bringing the Fair back to Butte – where both MREA and the Fair were started. We can't be more excited – check back for more…
Read More