Powering Montana’s Future

Release: October 12, 2017

Powering Montana’s Future

350 Montana announces release of two reports regarding Montana’s transition to renewables and upcoming panel discussions across the state

350 Montana will release two reports it commissioned on climate change and the future of renewables in Montana in conjunction with a five city tour and a series of panel discussions across the state entitled:Renewables For Montana, or Not?

In Montana we no longer have to wait for climate change. Its evidence pulses through our state in the mega-fires and smoke-choked communities after a normal snowpack, a “flash drought” shriveling our agricultural landscape along with a fire that burned 270,000 acres, and “hoot owl” restrictions that crimp our rivers and streams and cause tens of thousands of cold-water-dependent fish to go belly-up on our iconic Yellowstone River at the height of tourist season.

There is only one question remaining about our coal industry and its Colstrip electrical generators. That question is, what comes after the Colstrip plants’ decommissioning?

“Global climate change is due to the continued burning of fossil fuels, many from Montana,” said Jeff Smith of 350 Montana, which is co-sponsoring the forums. “Warming temperatures are responsible for the devastating fires across our state and the disastrous storms we see elsewhere. Citizens across our state and our elected officials need to plan a safer, cleaner, and sustainable energy future for Montana, or soon the Last Best Place will only live in our memories.”

350 Montana commissioned two reports to be written over this past summer: one on Montana’s transition to renewable energy and the second on the role Northwestern Energy (NWE), Montana’s corporate energy provider, plays in stifling a carbon-free energy system.

NWE’s website suggests: “We are committed to providing responsible, sustainable energy to meet our customer’s needs, while protecting, and even enhancing, the naturalenvironment.” Yet their actions show a very different relationship with the environment and the concerns of Montana citizens, over 90 percent of who favor moving to more wind and solar energy.

350 Montana decided to research and publish these reports then hold citizen/media events around the state in part because Northwestern Energy (NWE), Montana’s largest utility, released a plan in 2015 for how it wants to generate electricity for the next 40 years. The plan is over 200 pages long. Over the next 13 years, the utility wants to spend $1.3 billion on seven new fossil fuel plants, natural gas facilities, comprised of 13 new gas units to meet “peak demand” and deliver energy to Montana citizens.

“Natural gas plants are currently their choice of energy production,” said Carla Abrams a member of 350 Montana, “rather than adding carbon-free renewables and utilizing storage options to meet our projected needs. Of course, they seek to be vertically integrated, owning the gas wells, the pipelines, and the generators and raking in profits.”

350 Montana thinks using renewables and developing storage opportunities is the solution, not climate damaging fossil fuels—a path that has lead us to the edge of climate chaos.

The two Report’s release dates and panel discussions on renewable energy in Montana will take place as follows:

    • HELENATuesday, October 17, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.

    Solar Montana, 420 N. Last Chance Gulch (next to Firetower Coffee), Helena

    (Co-hosts: Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) & 350 Montana)

    Special Topic: Transitioning Forward: Energy Efficiency & Renewables

    Helena Panelists: Brian Fadie (MEIC) and Diego Rivas (NW Energy Coalition)

    • BILLINGSWednesday, October 18, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.

    Northern Plains Resource Council’s meeting room, 220 S. 27thStreet

    (Co-hosts: Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) & 350 Montana)

    Special Topic: Expanding Net Metering & Agricultural Applications for Renewables

    Billings Panelists: Ben Reed (Win Power/NPRC member)

    • MISSOULAWednesday, October 25, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.

    UC Theater (3rd floor), U of M Campus

    (Host: 350 Montana)

    Special Topic: Climate Change and our Economy, Politics & Policy

    Missoula Panelists: Donovan Power (Power Consulting); Dick Barrett (MT State Senator, Missoula)

    • BOZEMANWednesday, November 15, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.

    Bozeman Library, 626 E Main St, Bozeman

    Host: 350 Montana

    Special Topic: Climate Change & Impacts on Recreation & Tourism

    Bozeman Panelists: Becky Weed and Dave Tyler, Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Co.

    • COLUMBIA FALLSThursday, November 16, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.

    Cedar Creek Lodge.

    (Co-hosts: Glacier Climate Action & Climate Smart)

    Special Topic: Renewables, Climate Change & Impacts on Local Agriculture

    Columbia Falls Panelists: David Bopp (FEC), Paul Sibelrud (ViZn),

    Paul McKenzie (Stoltze), Diane Yarus (Airworks),

    Jeff Arcel (Aeon Renewable Energy), Jacqueline Sussman (350Missoula intern)

NWE claims that because solar and wind are intermittent, they can’t be used on hot afternoons in the summer or cold winter nights.

“We at 350 Montana, and many other organizations and allies in Montana, couldn’t disagree more,” said Jim Parker, another 350 Montana member and moderator of the panel discussions. “That’s why we decided to hold these panel discussions and release our Reports. Montana has a profound opportunity right now, with the Colstrip plants going down, to implement a just transition to 100 percent renewables. And we should.”

The panels will discuss both of the reports’ conclusions, while also discussing ways Montana can use renewable technologies, storage capacities, conservation techniques and other advances to meet this challenge. Each panel discussion will have a special topic that will be discussed pertinent to that area’s economic and social interests. The panels will also discuss what citizens can do to encourage our legislative leaders, decision-makers and energy providers to support our demands for a 100 percent transition away from fossil fuels and towards a renewable energy future.

“And when we switch,” adds 350 Montana’s Jerome Walker, “as we know we must, to clean, renewable electricity that’s generated by all the wind, sun, and flowing water we have here in Montana, then some of these ideas, maybe even most of them, will be needed and will be used.”

These events are sponsored by 350 Montana with local co-sponsors:

Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) in Helena

Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) in Billings

Glacier Climate Action and Climate Smart in Columbia Falls

* 350 Montana is an affiliate of the international organization350.org. Our mission is to work to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 350 ppm by implementing strategic actions and advocating policies to end fossil fuel burning with the greatest urgency. We envision a rapid conversion to a 100 percent renewable global energy system using wind, water, and solar. We work with the global grassroots climate movement to achieve these goals and safeguard Earth’s life-support systems.

MEDIA NOTE: 350 Montana representatives are available for interviews.

The two REPORTS will be made available to the media

on Tuesday, October 17, in Helena, and statewide.