You are invited!

350 Montana and nine co-sponsors are organizing a panel discussion called “Making Renewables Work for Montana” on Wednesday, February 8, 7 p.m. at the University Center Theater on the third floor of the University Center.

We are living in an exciting time, and there’s a hugely important decision coming up for Montana. Our coal plants are being phased out because their owners in Washington and Oregon no longer want to purchase carbon-polluting power. Our monopoly utility, NorthWestern Energy, knows this, and, in its recent energy procurement plan, described a future that includes $1.3 billion in new fossil fuel generators — paid for by you and me — to take coal’s place.

But the company seems intent on ignoring less expensive renewable energy, both commercial wind and commercial solar. They don’t seem to be paying attention to their customers. They’re going the wrong way!

A bipartisan poll of Montanans last September found that the majority of people like you and me want action on climate change. We strongly support clean energy, with 90 percent supporting more solar energy and 86 percent supporting more wind. Sixty-six percent think renewables are the best source for power in Montana. Here’s a Bozeman Chronicle article with a link to the poll itself:

350 Montana and our co-sponsors are presenting three speakers:

  • Mary Fitzpatrick from the Northern Plains Resource Council in Billings will talk about reducing demand. “The cheapest electricity is the watts we don’t use” is the subject of her talk.
  • Carl Borgquist, from Absaroka Energy in Bozeman will talk about recent innovations in storing energy with a talk called “Industrial Scale Storage and Battery Breakthroughs.”
  • Anne Hedges from the Montana Environmental Information Center in Helena will talk about her vision for Montana. Her talk is “Making It All Happen in Montana.”

So there. Get this on your calendar and come ready with questions, because citizens need to discuss our future energy development in light of the toll climate change is taking on our rivers and forests. We need to move a vision of clean energy forward.

Co-sponsors include Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Smart Missoula, Faith and Climate Action Montana, the Montana Environmental Information Center, the Montana Farmers Union, the Montana Renewable Energy Association, Northern Plains Resource Council, Reinvest Montana, and the Sierra Club, Montana Chapter.

We hope to see you there.

Jeff Smith, co-chair, 350 Montana