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Despite recent progress, Montana lags behind on renewable energy

For Immediate Release

Missoula, MT - Montana is falling behind the rest of the nation on clean energy, according to a new report released today by Environment Montana Research & Policy Center. According to the report, solar grew by less than 13-fold in Montana compared to nearly 40-fold nationally, and wind grew by less than 4-fold compared to a nearly 5-fold increase nationally.

The report also showed that the state lags behind on energy efficiency and electric cars, ranking 37th among the states for improvements in electricity energy efficiency programs and 43rd in the number of electric cars on the road.  

“We’re falling behind and missing huge opportunities to transition Montana’s economy to a cleaner, healthier future powered by renewable energy,” said Skye Borden from Environment Montana Research & Policy Center. “But, the progress that our neighboring states have made in the last decade, especially on wind, should give Montanans confidence that we can take clean energy to the next level.”

North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho all rank among the top 20 states in the nation for growth in wind development. Because of this growth, all four states currently outproduce Montana in wind generation. 

The report, Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Positions America for a 100% Renewable Future, provides a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key technologies needed to power the nation with clean, renewable energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicles. Montana ranked 23rd for wind and 43rd for solar.   

The report describes the factors that rapid growth in each category since 2007, including policies, improved technologies and lower costs, all of which suggest the potential for continued rapid growth in the years to come.

“This report helpfully follows a recently completed regional energy stakeholder process hosted by Governor Bullock and the Bonneville Power Administration that cleared away obstacles to Montana’s renewable energy development,” said Brian Fadie, the Clean Energy Program Director of Montana Environmental Information Center. “If we continue to focus our efforts on unleashing Montana’s vast renewable energy potential, we too can see the jobs and economics benefits that our neighbors are already enjoying.”

The report comes as a diverse group of U.S. cities, states, corporations and institutions commit to 100 percent renewable energy. In 2015, Hawaii became the first state in the country to set a 100 percent renewable energy requirement, and similar bills in both Massachusetts and California have cleared major hurdles this year. At the local level, 61 American cities, led by a mix of Republican and Democratic mayors, have committed to that goal. In addition, 131 major companies, including Bank of America, Google and Anheuser-Busch have committed to power their operations with 100 percent renewable energy.

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Environment Montana Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information, visit www.environmentmontanacenter.org