LETTER: Montana Needs Clean Homegrown Energy

By Beacon Staff

Several Flathead-area senators deserve thanks for voting to protect energy independent Montanans. Thanks, in particular, to Sen. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish) for his leadership.

Recently, the state Senate voted against a bill (SB 226) that would have crippled grid-interconnected home scale solar and wind energy projects in Montana. During the debate, Zinke stood up and said Montana should do all it can to support energy independence as a matter of national security. I whole-heartedly agree.

SB 226, sponsored by Sen. Jason Priest, R-Red Lodge, would force folks to pay an extra fee to the utility while they are trying to help fix our future energy problems. These private citizens have taken it upon themselves at their cost to make their private homes or backyards produce clean electricity that can safely supply their homes and beyond. While Priest is determined to punish home scale energy producers if they are connected to the grid, states on the West Coast are developing reward programs that do the exact opposite with what’s known a Feed In Tariff. Home scale producers of solar and small wind power get a super bonus for every kilowatt hour they produce from renewable energy as an inducement to bolster power production during the daytime when we use the most power. SB 226 seems to single out Montanans who are working hard to do their part to wean our country off of foreign oil and less clean energy sources.

When it came to the vote, Sen. Jon Sonju, R-Kalispell, and Sen. Carmine Mowbray, R-Polson, joined Zinke and helped stop this backward-looking proposal, for now. The bill is headed back to committee. Let’s make sure it doesn’t see the light of day. Montana needs clean, distributed and homegrown energy.

Kip Drobish
Oso Renewable Energy

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