Did you know that more than half of all the electricity generated by Montana power plants is currently exported to buyers in other states, including Oregon, Washington, and California? It’s a big deal to our state’s economy, and it’s in danger of going away—which is a big problem.
You see, for a lot of reasons, it doesn’t look like the people who currently buy our electricity are going to keep buying it forever. The problem is that the vast majority of electricity we produce for export is generated in coal-fired power plants, but markets in Oregon, Washington, and California have passed laws banning and phasing out the purchase of coal generated electricity.
Power generation and export is a complex business, but the result is simple: If we can’t sell our electricity, we’ll have to stop making it. And this means that thousands of Montana jobs and millions of dollars currently helping drive our economy are in jeopardy. We must modernize Montana’s energy supply, or we’ll end up getting left behind.
If we sit around complaining, the market for our electricity is going to dry up before we have a chance to do anything about it.
Oregon and California have already committed to moving away from coal, and it looks like Washington will soon follow suit. So even if the federal government doesn’t force Montana’s coal-fired power plants to make drastic changes, we’re going to have a big problem in just a few years.
Luckily, that’s just long enough for us to put a solution into place (and become more self-reliant in the process).
If we were selling widgets, we might not realize our customers’ taste had changed until sales were plummeting and it was too late to save the company. But with electricity, our customers are telling us now what they’re likely to buy five, ten, and even 20 years from now.
They’re not saying no to coal because they don’t need as much electricity anymore. In fact, Oregon, Washington, and California are all projected to continue growing, so as they end their reliance on coal power they’ll increasingly turn to clean energy to meet their energy needs.
So where will they get it? Well, that’s kind of up to us.
Montana is blessed with abundant natural resources. Over the years, we’ve used gold, copper, cattle, oil, natural gas, and even our gorgeous mountain views to make our economy grow.
It only makes sense that we now turn to something else we have a lot of. Together, wind, solar and energy efficiency initiatives have the potential to keep Montana's energy industry healthy for decades to come.
Other states aren’t as lucky - they’re more cloudy, their breezes aren’t as reliable, or they just don’t have as many good places to put wind turbines.
But if we play our cards right, renewable energy generation and energy efficiency could represent something amazing — an energy boom that never busts.
Montana wasn’t built by procrastinators. When the gold ran dry, we didn’t give up, and we’ve been adapting ever since. Today, our energy economy is once again in crisis. Let’s not wait to see what happens if we don’t do anything about it.
Our customers may not want our coal, but they’re happy to buy as much wind power as we can produce.
We can become stronger and more self-reliant with solar panels and energy efficient technology. We can create thousands of new jobs and inject millions of dollars into our economy when we need it most.
Montana’s next energy boom has been here all along, blowing across our fields and shining down on our rooftops. And this one won’t ever stop producing.
It’s time to start building the future of Montana’s energy economy.
It’s time to CHARGE.
In 1924, Marcellus and Joe Jacobs began experimenting with windmills to generate electricity on their family farm outside Vida, Montana. In 1930, the Jacobs Wind Electric Co. opened a factory in Minnesota and produced the most reliable and dependable wind-powered electric generation systems available for several decades.
Ninety years later, we’re finally in a position to make their vision a reality: capturing the Montana wind to make our state run.
Want to know more about the latest in wind energy technology in Montana? Get the facts and figures from the American Wind Energy Association.
What’s the absolute cheapest electric resource available today? Coal? Natural Gas? Wind? Actually, it’s energy efficiency. Most residential, industrial, and commercial customers can implement energy efficiency measures at a cost of roughly 2 cents per kilowatt hour, which is less expensive than any available energy source (by a large margin). Energy efficiency is already the second largest resource in the region, but there is still a lot of low-hanging fruit (read: significant bottom line business impacts) to be had.
Not only that, but energy efficiency can be achieved almost instantly - it doesn’t involve the time or expense of building large-scale power generation facilities. For almost all energy users, from individuals in their homes to irrigation pumps to large industrial plants, energy efficiency is one of the best capital expenditures available in terms of return on investment.
Montana has incredible potential to conserve energy, foster independence, and reduce our energy bills by investing in more energy efficiency technology. Find out more from our friends at NW Energy Coalition.
In Montana, we’ve always had an independent streak and rooftop solar is a good fit. It gives us control of our energy costs, takes advantage of Montana’s abundant sunny days and puts electricians, roofers and energy technicians to work across our state. As technology costs drop, solar power is growing fast, delivering clean energy directly to Montana families and businesses. The cost of solar power has dropped by half in the last five years, putting energy self-reliance within reach for Montana homeowners and businesses. Solar only delivers a small slice of Montana’s energy supply, but there’s tremendous untapped potential. Nationwide the number of solar jobs has grown 123% since 2010. That’s an opportunity Montana can’t afford to pass up.
You might be thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to have solar panels on MY roof.” We don’t blame you. The best place to start is with Montana Renewable Energy Association’s directory of local Montana solar installers.
Would you mind letting us know what’s standing in the way of you getting on board? We’re genuinely interested to hear what you’re thinking.
You won’t be added to any marketing list, but someone might send you an email with follow-up questions.