Despite progress, Montana lags on renewable energy and clean technology

Skye Borden

A new report released today by the Environment Montana Research and Policy Center says, despite recent progress, Montana is falling behind the rest of the nation on clean energy. According to the report, over the last decade solar grew 518 percent as compared to 4,334 percent nationally and wind grew by 430 percent as compared to a 659 percent increase nationally.

On a brighter note, Montana ranked 13th on wind and solar generation as a percentage of overall state electricity consumption. The report also shows that the state is also in the middle of the pack on energy efficiency, ranking 25th on increases in electricity efficiency savings as a percentage of electricity consumption.

More and more, we’re seeing evidence a future powered by renewable energy is within reach. The progress we’ve seen in the last decade on wind, solar and other technologies like electric cars and battery storage, should give Montanans the confidence that we can take clean energy to the next level.

The report, “Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress toward a Clean Energy 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 21st for wind growth and 44th for solar growth.

“Key clean energy technologies are improving rapidly and getting cheaper seemingly every day,” said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. “These and other advances open up new opportunities to end our dependence on fossil fuels and embrace a future built on clean, renewable energy.”

The report describes the factors that led to rapid growth in each category since 2007, including policies, improved technologies and lower costs. Nationwide, all three factors are likely to contribute to significant continued growth of renewables in the future. In Montana, however, recent state-level actions – including a troubling move by the Public Service Commission to undercut small solar projects – may cause the state to lag farther behind.

Montana has seen significant progress on clean energy, but we have a long way to go to make the kind of energy transformation that is needed to fulfill our potential. We should be using this opportunity to encourage renewable energy growth, not stifle it.

The report also comes as a growing number of U.S. cities, states, corporations and institutions consider commitments to 100 percent renewable energy. Currently 37 cities have committed to 100 percent renewable energy. Nearly 100 major companies have made a 100 percent renewable commitment, including Apple, Walmart and LEGO. Hawaii is committed to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. California and Massachusetts are currently considering legislation. Bills have also been introduced in both houses of Congress.


Skye Borden is the state director for Environment Montana ( 



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