Speak up on Regional Power Plan

Policy & Advocacy
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council has released a draft 20-year energy plan that will guide energy resource decisions in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. It’s crucially important that the Council, which is composed of two members from each of these four states, supports a final plan that prioritizes energy efficiency and renewable energy. Distributed solar resources can play an important role in serving our region’s electricity needs, but it’s important for the Council to hear from you. Every five years the Council updates its long-range energy plan guiding the deployment of electricity resources in the Bonneville Power Administration service territory, which includes NorthWestern Energy and western Montana electric cooperatives. The Draft 7th Power Plan is available for public comment until December 18th. The final plan will be released in…
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Committee weighs the benefits and costs of net metering law

Policy & Advocacy
At the September meeting of the Montana Legislature’s Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee (ETIC), MREA’s Policy Director, Ben Brouwer, presented a preliminary evaluation of the economic impact from net metering on NorthWestern Energy ratepayers and the state’s economy. The message to Legislators from MREA was clear: the economic benefit of net metering far outweighs the costs. The Committee’s study of net metering, triggered by the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 12 in the 2015 Legislature, has entered the data gathering phase. At the committee’s request, electric utilities, the electrical workers’ union and renewable energy industry groups submitted responses on September 1 to a series of questions pertaining to net metering costs, benefits, safety, interconnection standards, reliability, etc. You can download MREA’s full response here. For an updated version of MREA’s…
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Clean Power Plan: Governor Bullock needs to hear from you

Policy & Advocacy
In August the Environmental Protection Agency released the Clean Power Plan, a responsible step to fight climate change. The plan sets Montana on a path to cut carbon pollution from power plants while re-investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy. This is a path that will protect our clean air and key industries while making room for new jobs in the clean energy sector. But to take full advantage of this opportunity, we need Governor Bullock’s leadership. Let him know that you support a Montana solution to the Clean Power Plan that puts efficiency and renewable energy first. Governor Bullock has a strong record on clean energy. He has repeatedly blocked attempts to roll back Montana’s energy conservation tax credits and renewable energy standard and he’s made it clear that…
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Take Action: Stop Montana Dakota Utilities’ Attack on Solar

Policy & Advocacy
In a recent filing before the Public Service Commission, Montana Dakota Utilities proposed a 21% rate increase for their customers. On top of the double-digit rate hike, the utility wants to penalize homeowners who generate their own solar power by adding a new surcharge for net metering customers. MDU hasn’t disclosed how much the solar surcharge will impact an average solar customer, but there’s no question that the fee will make it more difficult for homeowners to control their own power bills with a rooftop solar array. MDU is taking energy choices away from their customers. All of this is especially alarming given that a legislative committee has just begun a study of net metering that MDU’s lobbyist supported in the Legislature. By taking their proposal for new solar fees…
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Legislative interim study of net metering gets underway

Policy & Advocacy
The members of Montana’s Energy and Telecommunication Interim Committee (ETIC) met on June 5 to establish their work plan over the coming eighteen months. The legislative interim committee, which is composed of four Republicans and four Democrats, selected a study of net metering as one of their primary focus areas. The study is guided by SJ 12, a resolution that passed the 2015 Legislature calling for a study of net metering. Within the broad scope of SJ 12, a cost/benefit analysis of net metering will receive the most attention of the committee, followed by a review of safety regulations for net metering systems, an examination of Montana incentives for net metering and a report of the economic impacts of the industry. Ben Brouwer, MREA’s Policy Director, provided guidance to ETIC…
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Net Metering at the Legislature: Half-time Report

Policy & Advocacy
Over the past few weeks, MREA’s priority legislation to make renewable energy more accessible and affordable to Montana consumers has been killed by the Montana Legislature. Hundreds of Montana businesses and individuals contacted their legislators, urging them to vote for MREA’s priority bills, but the outpouring of support wasn’t enough to overcome the powerful influence of utility lobbyists in Helena. HB 192, sponsored by Rep. Art Wittich (R-Bozeman), was heard on January 19th, with an impressive turnout of fifteen businesses, consumers and organizations lining up in support of raising the cap from 50 kilowatts, an amount decided in 1999 when net metering legislation was first passed in Montana, to 1 megawatt. As John Palm from Bozeman Green Build pointed out, the low cap limits opportunities for large energy users to…
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MREA’s 2015 Policy Priorities: Defend and Expand Opportunities for Distributed Renewable Energy

Policy & Advocacy
Net Metering: Fair Credit for Clean Energy Broadly distributed around Montana are more than 1,000 solar arrays, small wind turbines and micro hydro projects that provide power to homes, businesses, schools, farms and ranches. When the wind is blowing or the sun is shining and these generators produce more energy than the owner is using, the extra electrons flow onto the power grid and are sold by the utility to neighboring customers. Montana law guarantees that renewable energy system owners get full credit on their power bill for each kilowatt-hour of clean energy they provide to the utility. That’s fair. Let’s keep it that way. Why are Utilities Putting up Barriers to Rooftop Solar? Renewable energy is helping Montana families and businesses take charge of their energy costs like never…
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MREA Safety Statement

Safety & Training
The Montana Renewable Energy Association is dedicated to expanding the use of renewable energy across the state of Montana. Greater adoption of renewable energy technologies by the public requires a well-trained workforce; without trained individuals using best practices in the field to produce code-compliant installations, renewable energy systems are bound to perform poorly and/or become a hazard to the property and its occupants. Of equal importance is the need for this workforce to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety regulations for the construction industry. Non-compliance with OSHA safety standards on the jobsite can result in business-ending fines, life-altering injuries, and even death – all of which represent a step backward for the renewable energy industry and the broader adoption of its technologies. For these reasons, in…
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OSHA Partnership

Safety & Training
In January 2008, The Montana Renewable Energy Association and the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration executed a Strategic Partnership Agreement to ensure workplace safety in the growing renewable energy industry in Montana. The MREA is attempting to foster a safer working environment for themselves and their member companies. The purpose of the partnership is to prevent the four major hazards (falls, electrical, caught in/between and struck-by hazards) that account for the majority of fatalities and injuries in the construction industry. This partnership will focus on improving the safety and health programs of the MREA and their Participating Member companies and strive to eliminate hazards in the targeted areas. The OSHA Strategic Partnership Program for Worker Safety and Health (OSPP), adopted on November 13, 1998, is an…
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