Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Legislature attacks renewable energy, rural economic development

In 2005, the Montana Legislature adopted the Renewable Power Production and Rural Economic Development Act, sponsored by then-state Sen. Jon Tester. Also known as the Renewable Energy Standard, this act required the state’s investor-owned utilities to obtain an increasing percentage of their power from renewable sources: 5 percent by 2008, 10 percent by 2010, and 15 percent by 2015.

This forward-thinking policy was based on the 2005 Legislature’s belief that developing Montana’s abundant renewable energy resources would create jobs, stimulate rural economic development, and enhance Montana’s energy independence.

How right they were.

For example: NorthWestern Energy is meeting a portion of its Renewable Energy Standard through a contract with the 135-megawatt Judith Gap Wind Farm in Wheatland County. The Judith Gap Wind Farm created 200 construction jobs and now employs 12 people full-time. Economic benefits – including tax revenues, wages and royalties for landowners – have totaled more than $28 million.

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