67th Montana Legislature: Post-Session Review

67th Montana Legislature: Post-Session Review

This Legislative Session was challenging, to say the least. The pace and intensity was unlike any in recent memory, and opposition to renewable energy development continued to be deeply entrenched. Rooftop solar and small-scale renewables emerged from the session mostly intact, but not without their share of losses. One of those losses is the Alternative Energy Systems Tax Credit. In the early days of the session we worked on a bipartisan interim committee bill (HB17, Rep. Hamilton) to help lower- and moderate-income Montanans more easily access solar and wind by making the tax credit fully refundable. That concept didn’t gain…
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Utility Hijacks Rooftop Solar Bill, Attacks Solar Professionals

Utility Hijacks Rooftop Solar Bill, Attacks Solar Professionals

April 29, Update: HB448 was tabled in a Select Conference Committee meeting. MREA engineered a last-ditch effort to try and preserve the good parts of the bill, but that effort narrowly failed. The bill was then tabled, meaning it is dead. This is ultimately a great victory! The hijacked version would have been terrible for solar in Montana - for solar owners and consumers, as well as for our state's solar professionals. We are both thrilled and relieved that we were able to stop the bad version from moving forward. Thank you to all those who helped and supported us…
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67th Montana Legislature: Mid-Session Review

67th Montana Legislature: Mid-Session Review

After a relatively slow start to the first few weeks of the 67th Legislative Session, the last few weeks of February were a whirlwind as legislators worked to get bills introduced and heard in committees before the Transmittal Deadline on March 3rd. Other than revenue bills (and a few other exceptions), bills that are not voted out of committee and across to the other chamber before the Transmittal Deadline die and are not allowed to move forward. Discussions on energy issues, in particular, ramped up over the last few weeks. Below we share some of our insights from inside the hallways of the…
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Anti-Solar Bill Will Effectively Destroy Industry, Cost Montana Jobs

Anti-Solar Bill Will Effectively Destroy Industry, Cost Montana Jobs

Update 2/19: Huge Win for Rooftop Solar! On Friday, Feb. 19th in the House Energy Committee, Rep. Brewster withdrew HB359 before it even had its hearing. Thank you to all of the Montanans who signed up to oppose the bill, submitted comments, and made phone calls. There were more than a thousand comments submitted in opposition to the bill! This loud and vocal opposition helped earn this huge victory for rooftop solar. Onward! House Bill 359 being introduced by Rep. Brewster (R, Billings) will effectively destroy Montana’s solar industry and cost the state hundreds of well-paying jobs provided by local businesses…
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67th Montana Legislative Session: Preview and Getting Involved

67th Montana Legislative Session: Preview and Getting Involved

This legislative session will be unlike any we have participated in recently. The makeup of the Legislature and Governor's Office has shifted, and COVID has created a new paradigm for public involvement. There's a lot of uncertainty about how the session will play out. Despite this uncertainty, MREA's advocacy will continue to be driven by our community's priorities and goals. MREA has always, and will always, advocate to: protect and defend the right of Montanans to produce their own energy, promote fair and affordable access to small-scale renewable energy, and oppose policies that attack renewable energy development that will harm consumers…
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Federal ITC Extended for 2 Years

Federal ITC Extended for 2 Years

Some great energy-related news coming out of Congress! The spending bill – which was signed into law just yesterday – includes a two-year extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) at the current 26%, rather than decreasing yet again at the end of this year. The ITC has spurred huge amounts of private investment in renewable energy. This is a big win for renewables! The tax credit was originally 30% of the total installed system cost. The ITC was due to step down in 2021 to 22%. This was part of a planned phase out of the credit, which was…
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Committee Bill Will Improve Access to Tax Credits

Committee Bill Will Improve Access to Tax Credits

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…
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Protecting Common Sense Installation Design at the PSC

Protecting Common Sense Installation Design at the PSC

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.…
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Delayed Action on Renewable Energy Tax Credits

Delayed Action on Renewable Energy Tax Credits

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…
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Net Metering: So, what happens now?

Net Metering: So, what happens now?

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…
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