350 Montana to stage renewable energy rally
at NorthWestern Energy headquarters in Butte
Butte, Montana. NorthWestern Energy has repeatedly blocked efforts, both small and large, to increase renewable energy capacity in Montana. In response, the climate activist group 350 Montana announces a festive rally onOctober 10 at NorthWestern Energy headquarters in Butte. With music provided by Jack Gladstone, Andrea Harsell and others, hundreds of Montanans will assemble in Butte’s Emma Park and march to NorthWestern Energy’s uptown headquarters and demand the company pivots directly to renewable energy now.
“We see the results of doing nothing about climate change for the last 25 years in our dying rivers, extreme forest fire seasons, and advancing threats to our two largest industries, agriculture and tourism,” explains 350 Montana’s Jeff Smith. “Montanans just can’t afford NorthWestern Energy’s business-as-usual for the next 25 years.”
The wagons are circling around coal, thanks to growing public and political pressure and a collapse of the worldwide coal market. Two of the Colstrip generators are currently scheduled for decommissioning, and NorthWestern Energy is already making plans for how it will replace the electricity Colstrip supplies.
The company has recently proposed spending $1.3 billion on 13 new natural gas generators. Natural gas is often touted as a “bridge fuel” between coal and clean energy. While it does burn more cleanly than coal, the amount of methane released during natural gas mining (aka fracking) puts it on par with coal in terms of its impact on the climate.
Once these generators are built, the Montana Public Service Commission will be obliged to let the company run its generators until the initial investment plus a “reasonable” profit is recovered. But this profit comes at an unreasonable expense to the citizens and environment of Montana. The state’s top industries, not to mention activities at the core of Montana’s identity, rely on cold water and deep snowpacks, both of which are rapidly disappearing.
The cost of clean energy sources like wind and solar have come down so much that they are cost-competitive with fossil fuels, all while emitting zero greenhouse gasses. Montana has both solar and wind in abundance, but Montana’s power company is actively blocking public and private attempts to take advantage of it. A company lobbyist once referred to solar energy as a “cancer.” And NorthWestern Energy has consistently made it difficult for small scale solar and wind projects to be economically viable. Most recently it has proposed to cut in half the rate it pays for residential solar that is sold back to the grid.
NorthWestern Energy has been great to its shareholders, returning 300 percent—as much as Google and Amazon—over the last seven years. Now it’s time for NorthWestern Energy to do right by its customers, the citizens of Montana. It’s time to pivot now toward renewables—which will also be a good long term investment for shareholders.
The rally will begin at 11 AM on October 10 in Butte’s Emma Park, at South Dakota and West Porphyry streets, with music by Jack Gladstone and Andrea Harsell. From there we will walk to the corner of W Park and Main streets, in front of NorthWestern Energy year-old corporate headquarters. Battery-powered speakers will be set up on each of the four corners, broadcasting the words of several experts speaking on topics like the real impact of natural gas on climate, and what a post fossil fuel energy economy could do for Montana.
Transportation to the event will be provided, including buses and vans from Missoula, Bozeman and Billings.
Dan Brandborg, general manager of SBS Solar, a Hamilton, MT based solar energy company. Dan will talk about the overt and hidden constraints on residential solar and its potential should we lift these constraints.
Brian Fadie of the Montana Environmental Information Center Brian will highlight new Montana polling numbers showing overwhelming support in the state for increasing use of wind, solar, and energy efficiency.
David Merrill of the Sierra Club David will highlight the long history of inaction in addressing the climate threat and the rapidly intensifying crisis that is the fruit of that recklessness, in Montana and around the globe.
For more info: www.350montana.org/event/
100-word Calendar Blurb
Climate Rally, with music by Jack Gladstone and Andrea Harsell
The climate activist group 350 Montana will hold a festive rally on October 10 in Butte’s Emma Park, from 11 am to 1 pm. The goal is to send a message to NorthWestern Energy that Montanans want their power from renewable energy sources. We want NorthWestern Energy to embrace solar, wind, and other forms of fossil fuel-free energy. Speakers will address the need for clean fuels, and what renewables will do for Montana. Music by Jack Gladstone and Andrea Harsell, and Chicks with Sticks. Free transportation provided from Missoula and Bozeman; transport grants available.
For more info: www.350montana.org/event/
Author and climate activist Bill McKibben is available for interviews.
Missoula FreeCycles will be riding to Butte.
Missoula bicycle advocacy group FreeCycles will be sending a team of approximately a half-dozen bike riders to ride to Butte from Missoula. The contact for this is Bob Giordano firstname.lastname@example.org