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Study: Renewable Energy Packs Power in Montana

A 10-year review of the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard shows it created 100 new jobs a year, and added $17 million to the annual gross state product. Credit: Deborah C. Smith
A 10-year review of the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard shows it created 100 new jobs a year, and added $17 million to the annual gross state product. Credit: Deborah C. Smith
May 21, 2015

HELENA, Mont. - Renewable energy has evolved into a multimillion-dollar industry in Montana. A new report takes a look at the economic landscape during the 10 years of the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard and finds renewable energy has added $17 million to the annual gross state product.

Jeff Fox, Montana policy manager at Renewable Northwest, says wind generation is the stand-out.

"Two-thirds of new generating capacity in the state has been wind energy," says Fox. "Two-thirds of the new wind energy is actually exported out of state, attracted here by the pro-renewables policy signaled by the Renewable Portfolio Standard."

He notes, wind electricity generation in Montana was zero in 2005. Development was encouraged by the standard, which requires that at least 15 percent of energy in Montana come from renewable resources, such as wind and solar.

Fox says the report finds the Renewable Portfolio Standard has been particularly effective at driving economic development in rural Montana.

"For instance, wind energy is already about as important to the economies of Wheatland and Toole counties, as measured by tangible assets, as coal and coal-fired power are in Rosebud County," Fox says.

The report also concurs with previous studies of the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard in finding the policy has not resulted in higher electric rates for consumers.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT