Powering Montana’s Future: Bozeman

The fourth of five 350 Montana forums is in Bozeman. Please share with friends and family:

             BOZEMAN: Wednesday, November 15, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.
            Bozeman Library, 626 E Main St, Bozeman
            Special Topic: Renewables, Climate Change & Impacts on Local Agriculture

Bozeman Panelists: Jeff Smith and John Woodland, co-chair, 350 Montana and Becky Weed and Dave Tyler, Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Co.

 

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, a “flash drought” shriveling our agriculture 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 about our coal industry and its Colstrip electrical generators: 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 energy provider, plays in stifling a carbon-free energy system. The reports are available at our website, www.350montana.org .

NWE’s website suggests: “We are committed to providing responsible, sustainable energy to meet our customer’s needs, while protecting, and even enhancing, the natural environment.” 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. 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.

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 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.