Montana Lawmakers keep renewable energy standard

Source: By Karl Puckett,Great Falls Tribune • Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Montana legislative committee has agreed to maintain an existing renewable energy standard.

The move will require the state’s utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by next year.

“We believe our standard of 15 and 15 is a good number,” said state Sen. Cliff Larsen (D).

The bipartisan panel’s 8-0 vote to keep the renewable energy standard echoed the recommendations of a report recently completed by the state’s Legislative Services Division. The study found the policy has encouraged new electricity generation in Montana and spurred economic development in rural areas, which has led to higher property tax receipts for some rural areas.

The renewable standard was established by a 2005 law called the Montana Renewable Power Production and Rural Economic Development Act.

Kyla Maki, clean energy director at the Montana Environmental Information Center, applauded the vote but said lawmakers should have done more.

“It’s puzzling they didn’t then proceed to say more of a good thing is a great thing,” Maki said (Karl Puckett,Great Falls Tribune, Sept. 8). — SP