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Montana GreenPower ~ Your Guide to Renewable Energy in Montana
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Learn about  North-
Western Energy's  Universal Systems Benefit, which encourages development of renewable energy projects that use environmentally friendly — or "green" — technology to generate electricity. More ...

A partnership of Montana businesses, non-profit groups and government agencies participates in the Million Solar Roofs Initiative. More ...

ENERGY STAR offers businesses and consumers energy efficient solutions – helping to save money while protecting the environment for future generations.

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Explore these pages to learn what's happening in solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies in Montana. You'll find the latest renewable energy news, information on planning and designing your own solar, wind and micro-hydro systems, activities for the classroom, updates on utility restructuring, and links to other useful sites.
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Montana-German Partnership Plans 
180MW Wind Project near Judith Gap

Great Falls Tribune reporter Mike Dennison writes about a Big Sandy-based partnership that’s ready to begin work on a 180-megawatt wind farm near Judith Gap, calling it the first major wind-power project in Montana. The story quotes Bob Quinn, an organic farmer from Big Sandy and a partner in WindPark Solutions America: "The project we've been studying for the last 2Ū years is ready for construction." The partnership includes Quinn and a pair of German wind-power experts. The corporation is preparing to bid on a contract to sell wind power to NorthWestern Energy. More ...

WindPark Solutions News Release

Trout Unlimited Buys Renewable Energy 
to Power Columbia Basin Field Offices

Portland, Oregon – Trout Unlimited, the nation's largest trout and salmon conservation organization, today launched its "Salmon Generation" green power initiative to promote renewable energy generation alternatives and salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest.

"Salmon and energy became forever linked in this region when we started building dams on the rivers and asking the salmon and steelhead to carry the load," said Jeff Curtis, Western Conservation Director for Trout Unlimited. "We've reached a point now where we need either to invest in changes that will lighten the burden of our energy demands on the backs of wild salmon and steelhead or seriously face the prospect of future generations without them."

To initiate the campaign, Trout Unlimited has purchased — through Bonneville Environmental Foundation's Green Tags program — an amount of energy from renewable sources sufficient to power its five national field offices in Oregon, Idaho and Montana. About 99% of energy purchased through BEF's Green Tags comes from new wind power generated within the region, with the remainder from solar.

"This is our small attempt to demonstrate the positive link between clean, affordable energy and sustainable salmon and steelhead runs to counter the false impression many folks seem to have that they're mutually exclusive," said Alan Moore of TU. "We hope that others vested in the future of this region's salmon and steelhead heritage will recognize that link and follow our lead."

Moore said that Trout Unlimited's investment amounts to about 75 cents a day for each of its five Columbia basin offices.

"Trout Unlimited has taken a leadership position with this purchase of renewable energy and their initiative to promote renewable power," said Rachel Shimshak, director of the Renewable Northwest Project, a regional advocacy organization for renewable sources of electricity. "Diversifying the region's energy resources with clean renewable power benefits the environment, local economies, and public health."

Currently hydropower supplies about 71 percent of the region's generating capacity, leaving utilities and ratepayers—and salmon—at the mercy of dramatic swings in precipitation from year to year. In low-water years such as 2001, juvenile salmon in the Columbia-Snake basin experienced the deadliest migration in recent memory because river managers chose to operate the system of dams to maximize revenue, leaving migrating salmon and steelhead smolts high and dry.

Moore said that Trout Unlimited is promoting alternative sources such as wind and solar in the interest of diversifying to a broader set of energy resources, not in the interest of making hydropower obsolete.

"This isn't about replacing the Columbia-Snake hydrosystem with windmills," said Moore. "This is about encouraging the demand for clean sources like wind and solar to diversify our energy portfolio. As more green power comes on line and the cost gap narrows even further, we can be ready to look at the more harmful sources like outmoded dams and coal operations and put them in mothballs."

Trout Unlimited has been an outspoken proponent of removing four federal dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington to prevent further extinctions of several wild salmon and steelhead stocks. The majority of scientists studying the issue maintain that removing those four dams is a necessary component of a successful recovery strategy for wild Snake River salmon. The lower Snake River dams contribute less than 5 percent of the region's electricity.

Last year, volunteers with Trout Unlimited's California state council initiated a Green Tags program of their own with BEF, with percentages of each Tag purchased going to TU California's river restoration projects.
"We're hoping to spread the word throughout the West and indeed nationwide that healthy fisheries and clean, affordable energy not only can coexist, but that they're both necessary components of a sustainable future," Moore said.

Background Information on Trout Unlimited 
UM-Western Monitoring Solar Radiation 
The University of Montana-Western is participating in a solar-radiation monitoring program administered by the University of Oregon Solar Radiation Monitoring Laboratory. Last October, Rich Kessler from the Solar Radiation Monitoring Lab and visiting scientist Dr. Igor Tyukhov from the All-Russian Research Institute for Electrification of Agriculture in  Moscow visited the campus to install the equipment on the roof of the OC Building.

The site is one of 29 in a network around the Northwest and the only one in Montana. The equipment takes measurements of solar radiation at the Dillon site every five minutes. Tom Wagenknecht, an environmental sciences student, maintains the equipment and communicates with the University of Oregon lab.

More photos

UM-Western's environmental science curriculum emphasizes multi-disciplinary field-based research projects; specializations in applied mathematics, wildlife biology, environmental geochemistry, geology, sustainable natural resource management, wildlands therapy, or wildlands interpretation. Southwest Montana is our lab.

UO Solar Radiation Monitoring Laboratory

Baucus among Winners of First
Renewable Energy Alliance Awards

Washington, DC – The Renewable Energy Alliance, comprising some of the most promising renewable energy industries, has named Montana Sen. Max Baucus as one of its "Clean Fourteen." 

The "Clean Fourteen" – a tripartisan group of six Republicans, seven Democrats, and one Independent from the House and Senate – were honored last October in the U.S. Capitol's Mansfield Room. They each received a Renewable Energy Leadership Award.

Each of the 14 has shown "extraordinary commitment" to advancing the development and deployment of clean energy across America, according to the Alliance.

"Renewable energy is cleaning our environment while reducing America's dependence on foreign energy sources," said Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association. "These Congressional leaders have been the true champions of clean energy, fighting the good fight on behalf of America's families."

The winners are:

Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO)
Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO)
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT)
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY)
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)
Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN)
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR)

The Renewable Energy Alliance comprises the American Bioenergy Association, American Wind Energy Association, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Geothermal Energy Association, National Hydropower Association, and Solar Energy Industries Association. These industries collectively are growing at roughly 20 percent per year, and employ tens of thousands of Americans, according to the Alliance.

Congressman Reintroduces 
Residential Solar Tax Credit Bill

Washington, DC (January 13, 2003)  – The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has praised Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) for reintroducing his residential solar energy tax credit bill.

The bill would provide homeowners who install solar systems with a tax credit to offset the startup costs of adding clean, renewable solar power to their homes.

"The Hayworth bill is a winner for homeowners and for the air we breathe," said Glenn Hamer, SEIA's Executive Director. "Solar power is a clean, reliable and renewable resource, but the upfront costs can make some homeowners hesitate. The Hayworth bill will help increase demand for home-grown solar power and thus reduce demand for foreign and more polluting energy sources."

The bill would provide a federal tax credit of 15 percent of the cost of both solar electric and solar hot water systems installed on homes. The language passed both the House and Senate last Congress, and enjoyed the support of the White House, but did not become law because the comprehensive energy bill died in a conference committee. The Hayworth bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways & Means, of which Hayworth is a member.

"This has been a great January for the solar industry," Hamer said. "First we learned that a first-ever solar electric system has been installed on White House grounds, and now Congressman Hayworth has renewed his fight to expand the use of clean energy on homes coast to coast. We look forward to energizing our hundreds of member companies to urge their Congressmen to support the Hayworth bill."

SEIA is the national trade organization representing solar electric and solar thermal manufacturers, component suppliers, and distributors.

ASiMI Moses Lake Plant Manufacturing 
Silicon for Solar Cells

Moses Lake, WA  – Advanced Silicon Materials LLC (ASiMI), a subsidiary of Komatsu Ltd. of Japan and a manufacturer of polycrystalline silicon, and Silicon Technologies AS, a subsidiary of Renewable Energy Corporation AS (REC) of Norway have established a joint-venture company dedicated to the manufacture and sale of polycrystalline silicon for solar applications. Under the name of Solar Grade Silicon LLC (SGS), the joint venture started operations with 50:50 equity participation last October.

SGS launched production of polycrystalline silicon for solar applications in November after optimizing the production technologies for polycrystalline silicon licensed by ASiMI to SGS for solar applications at the Moses Lake Plant. SGS also plans to develop fluidized bed technology to produce granular polycrystalline silicon at a lower cost with a targeted completion date of not more than three years. ASiMI will have the right to use the technology in the polycrystalline silicon business for electronic applications. As REC will finance SGS's technology development program and a majority of its working capital requirements, it is expected that ASiMI's equity holding ratio in the joint venture will decline in the future, falling to 25 percent in three years.

The joint venture is the world's first polycrystalline silicon manufacturer exclusively focused on solar applications.

Advanced Silicon Materials LLC, with its head office in Butte, is a leading producer of ultra-high purity polycrystalline silicon, and the world's largest manufacturer and supplier of silane gas. Both products are integrated through a unique  technology to create a base material for silicon wafers and devices produced by the semiconductor industry.

Read more on Con.Web.

UCS Launches Clean Energy Network

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is seeking participants in EnergyNet, a new electronic network aimed at advancing clean energy solutions. EnergyNet is a free resource offered by UCS that provides access to reports, fact sheets, testimony, presentations, and educational materials on renewable energy issues. "All of this information is backed by rigorous scientific and technical analysis," according to UCS.

To join EnergyNet online, visit

January's Here, Snow's Missing
Last fall, the Bonneville Power Administration said it would have a much better view of the agency's financial picture once snowpack and water run off data were available after the first of the year. Now it's nearly February, and BPA says it doesn't look good. The bulk of BPA's power supply comes from snowpack in the Rocky Mountains, the Cascades, the Sawtooths and the Grand Tetons. "And everywhere it's dry to very dry," says BPA.

The River Forecast Center's latest runoff forecast—the January mid-month—calls for a runoff of 77.6 million acre-feet, 72 percent of normal and forecasts have been trending downward slowly all winter. Snowpack readings are better than in 2001 when the basin had only 52 percent of normal snow on Feb. 1. This year, so far, the reading rests at 68 percent.

Solar Stock Tanks Protect Pasture Land and History
A stone's throw from the historic Oregon Trail, rancher Rob Hellyer is pioneering new water supplies for livestock with the help of modern alternative energy technology and High Plains Power, Inc.

Located near Lander, Wyo., the segment of the famous westward route known as South Pass is a wide, level gap in the Rocky Mountains that allowed wagons to cross the Continental Divide. The landscape today looks much as it did 160 years ago, miles away from civilization—and power lines. More…

Biodiesel Beats the Cold

Coldest Spots in the Country Succeed 
with Biodiesel Even at Subzero Temperatures

Jefferson City, MOi – Cold weather isn't stopping biodiesel users from depending on the cleaner burning fuel in the winter. From vehicles at the Canadian border to Colorado ski towns to airport snowplows and school buses, biodiesel is proving its reliability even when the temperature plummets.

Biodiesel is an American-made fuel that can be produced from any fat or vegetable oil, such as soybean oil. “Concerns that biodiesel can't perform or flow well in adverse weather are based on myths,” according to Kelly Strebig, a research engineer for the University of Minnesota Center for Diesel Research at Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Strebig and other researchers have verified that a B2, a blend of 2 percent biodiesel and 98 percent petroleum diesel has no measurable difference in cold flow properties than standard diesel. He says higher blends of biodiesel, such as B20, can be treated with standard flow-improvers – the same as most diesel fuel is treated in cold weather. The Center for Diesel Research also just completed studies of new additives that lowered the gel point of B20 to 50 degrees below zero.

“Many people aren't aware that cold flow improvers are already in most diesel during the winter,” Strebig said. “The same procedures and products that keep diesel from gelling are typically good for biodiesel too. Many of these cold-flow improvers only cost ž cent to 1Ŋ cents per gallon, and you only need them during the few coldest months of the year.”

Known as the “Icebox of the Nation,” International Falls, Minnesota is a good place to test the cold-weather reliability of any fuel. International Falls is home to Voyageurs National Park, which has used B20 for three years and has experienced no problems with it even though the B20 is stored in unheated above-ground tanks. B20-powered vehicles have started at 28 degrees below zero with only a common fuel block and fuel filter heater. For more details on Voyageurs use of biodiesel in cold weather along with profiles on Yellowstone National Park; the Town of Breckenridge Colorado; Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri; and Medford, New Jersey School District. Cold Weather Success Stories.

“We aren't surprised at reports like these because biodiesel is such a well-tested fuel, both in the laboratory and in the real world,” said National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Executive Director Joe Jobe. “For many years, Europeans have used biodiesel year-round and in cold locations like the Swiss Alps. Likewise, the United States can depend on American-made biodiesel.”

Biodiesel has similar horsepower, torque and BTU content compared to petroleum diesel. It offers excellent lubricity and higher cetane than diesel fuel. Biodiesel is registered with the EPA as a fuel and fuel additive. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a new comprehensive technical report of biodiesel emissions data that shows that B20 can reduce emissions of total unburned hydrocarbons by 20 percent when compared to petroleum diesel. The report also verified a 12 percent reduction of both carbon monoxide and particulate matter with B20.

Learn more about biodiesel by visiting Fact sheets on biodiesel and cold weather are at Biodiesesl Fact Sheets

Oregon Senator Seeks Extension 
of Wind Production Tax Credit

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) has introduced a bill (S. 207) to extend the wind production tax credit to January 2014.

Smith’s measure follows news of solid gains for wind energy in 2002 even in the face of an overall retrenchment in the broader energy industry.

The American Wind Energy Association reported last week that total installed wind electric generating capacity expanded by nearly 10percent during the year, with 410 megawatts (MW) of new equipment going into service (enough to meet the annual needs of approximately 120,000 average American homes). At year's end, AWEA said, wind plants in 27 states across the country totaled 4,685 MW, enough to serve more than 1.3 million households.

Although the new additions made 2002 the fourth best year of all time, AWEA executive director Randall Swisher said, the total was down sharply from 2001, when a record 1,696 MW were installed. The lower total, he said, "underlines the vital importance of having a stable energy policy environment in which a new industry can grow in a healthy fashion."

Central to the industry's agenda in 2003, Swisher said, will be a proposed multi-year extension of the existing federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC), which is currently scheduled to expire Dec. 31, 2003.

 "Congress has allowed the PTC to expire twice before renewing it — in 1999 and 2001 — and each time the impact on our industry has been devastating," Swisher said.

An extension of the credit was included in both the House and Senate versions of last year's energy bill, which died when Congress could not reach final agreement before adjourning in December.

Senate OKs USB Extension; SB77 Moves to House

Extension of Montana's Universal System Benefits cleared another hurdle this week with the Montana Senate approving a bill that would extend the program through December 2005. 

Senate Bill 77 passed the Senate Tuesday on a unanimous voice vote after winning approval in the Energy and Telecommunication Committee. Sen. Royal Johnson (R-Billings), who is chairman of the committee, sponsored the bill. The Legislature's Transition Advisory Committee had requested the measure.

Bozeman Democrat Sen. Emily Stonington's motion to extend USB through 2013 died in committee.  

Montana established universal system benefits programs to ensure continued funding of and new expenditures for energy conservation, renewable resource projects and applications, and low-income energy assistance during the transition period and into the future. 

Beginning Jan. 1, 1999, 2.4 percent of each utility's annual retail sales revenue in Montana for the calendar year ending December 31, 1995, was established as the initial funding level for universal system benefits programs.

Senate Bill 77

MDU Resources to Purchase 
California Wind Generation Facility

Bismarck, ND – (12/20/02) MDU Resources Group, Inc. (NYSE:MDU) announced that its Centennial Power, Inc. subsidiary had entered into an agreement to purchase the 66.6-megawatt Mountain View wind powered electric generation facility, from San Gorgonio Power Corp., an affiliate of PG&E National Energy Group for $102.5 million cash, subject to certain closing adjustments. The acquisition is subject to satisfaction of certain conditions including receipt of regulatory approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Justice under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Anti-Trust Improvement Act. Financial closing is expected to occur in early 2003. The project meets stated economic and financial objectives of MDU Resources for growth via acquisitions and is expected to be accretive to earnings.

The Mountain View project is located in the San Gorgonio Pass, northwest of Palm Springs, Calif., one of the nation's prime wind energy development areas. The facilities consist of 111 Mitsubishi MWT-600 wind turbines and began commercial operation in September 2001. The project sells all of its output under a long-term contract with the California Department of Water Resources. SeaWest Wind Power, Inc. will continue to operate the facilities.

"This project is an ideal one for us to become involved with since it supplies power to the California market under contract and has a reliable earnings stream that is unaffected by economic cycles," said Paul Gatzemeier, Centennial Power's vice president and general manager. "In addition, this project is environmentally sound, gives us more expertise in wind generation and diversifies our generation assets."

The information in this release includes certain forward-looking statements, including statements by the vice president and general manager of Centennial Power, Inc. and a statement that the acquisition meets the stated economic and financial objectives of MDU Resources for growth via acquisitions, within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Although the company believes that its expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, actual results may differ materially. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements include operation of plant facilities, present or prospective generation, market demand for energy from plants or facilities, federal and California governmental policies and the ability to effectively integrate acquired operations. For further discussion, refer to MDU Resources' most recent Form 10-Q at Item 2
Management's Discussion and Analysis Safe Harbor for Forward-looking Statements.

MDU Resources Group, Inc. provides energy, value-added natural resource products and related services that are essential to our country's energy, transportation and communication infrastructure. MDU Resources includes electric and natural gas utilities, a natural gas pipeline, utility services, natural gas and oil production, construction materials and mining, and energy services. For more information about MDU Resources, see the company's Web site at or contact the investor relations department at [email protected].

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., PG&E National Energy Group, Inc. develops, builds, owns and operates electric generating and natural gas pipeline facilities and provides energy trading, marketing and risk-management services. PG&E National Energy Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG).

Contacts: Warren L. Robinson - Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer
(701) 222-7991 or Cathi Christopherson Vice President, Corporate Communications (701) 222-7959

Sandra McDonough, 503/833-4601 or Megan Frey
(503) 833-4603 PG&E National Energy Group

MDU News

WSU to Host Net Energy Homes Conference

Builders, developers, architects, and utility staff will learn about integrating existing and cutting-edge technologies to design net energy homes at a conference set for May 6-8 at Skamania Lodge  in Stevenson, Wash. 

"Net Energy Conservation" hopes to move conservation and solar power into the marketplace by designing homes that produce more than they consume. Net energy home design is an affordable goal for the first time. A combination of new technologies and new legislation make it possible! net energy homes conference Net energy, it's a simple formula: energy in < energy out.

The conference will offer small classroom presentations by the Northwest's leading residential energy and green building experts. Attendees will come away with skills, contacts, and the opportunity for Net Energy Home Specialist certification.

Look for more information soon at:, or call WSU Conferences and Professional Programs: 253-445-4575.

WSU Conferences and Professional Programs
2333 7612 Pioneer Way E
Puyallup, WA 98371-4998

Mountain States Appliance Report 2001 Released 

Households in the Mountain States consumed 0.58 quadrillion Btu of energy in 1997 (the most recent year for which data are available), according to an Energy Information Administration regional energy profile. That consumption accounted for about 6 percent of the nationwide total of 10.2 quadrillion Btu. About 30 percent of Mountain household energy was used to operate appliances (including refrigerators) and to run electric air-conditioning. That share is about the same as share for the United States as a whole (31 percent).

Mountain States

Sustainability Fair 2003 to Feature Alternative Energy

Sustainability Fair 2003 will be July 12, 2003, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Depot Rotary Park in downtown Livingston, Montana. More than 70 vendors will showcase sustainable goods and services available in our region, and many will host workshops. Crews will construct an on-site "Sustainable Office" that will showcase the latest innovations in sustainable building materials and alternative energy features available to homeowners.

Because 3,000 or more attendees are expected, it's an excellent venue for vendors of 'green' products. The Fair is sponsored by the Corporation for the Northern Rockies, a Livingston-based sustainable economic development nonprofit that serves Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. There will be day-long music and children's programs. Admission is $2/adults or $1/with one can of food, seniors and children free. Bring the family and learn how you can make sustainable choices in your everyday life. For more information, vendors or attendees, contact CNR at i[email protected], 406.222.0730 or visit CNR's website at

Harvesting Clean Energy Conference to Promote 
Economic Opportunities for Agricultural Community

Boise, ID
As the Northwest faces new challenges to its economic health and its energy supplies, the regionšs premier rural clean energy conference has joined forces with Idahošs most important agricultural event to offer rural Northwest communities the opportunity to learn how energy and agriculture can work together to bring about rural economic development.

The 3rd Annual Harvesting Clean Energy Conference and the Idaho Ag Summit will be held jointly February 10 & 11 in Boise, Idaho ( Organizers are calling the event an ideal opportunity for people involved in the agriculture and energy sectors of government, industry, farming, and economic development to find the tools they need to get profitable clean energy projects built in rural Northwest communities.

This is the first time ever the two leading industry events have combined their efforts to allow their constituents to gain a practical and in-depth understanding of how agriculture and energy opportunities intertwine and can produce new revenue streams.

"The conference provides the Northwest agricultural community, not just in Idaho but also across the Northwest, with the opportunity to see and discover first-hand how they can enhance their economic vitality through clean energy power production technologies and techniques," said Brad Hoaglun, organizer of the Idaho Ag Summit.

"This joint conference is designed for to meet the changing economic needs of farmers, ranchers, agriculture and rural leaders, tribes, and elected officials across the Northwest," added Rhys Roth, from Climate Solutions in Olympia, WA, one of the organizers of the Harvesting Clean Energy conference.

A wide range of issues will be examined in special workshops including wind power, biofuels and anaerobic digesters. Another key part of the conference will address on-farm energy.  Organizers say on-farm energy involves the process of producing power for on-site use such as wind for irrigation power, solar for stock watering, on-farm biogas and geothermal heat for greenhouses and aquaculture. A trade show will feature the latest technologies and practical, hands-on information about agriculturally-based energy production.
Registration for the event is now open. For more information about the program and registration visit, or contact:

  • Diane Gasaway, Northwest Cooperative Development Center at 360-943-4241, email at [email protected]; or
  • Brad Hoaglun,  Ag Summit at (208) 888-0988, email at [email protected].

Park Electric Accepts Second Grid-tied Wind System
Independent Power Systems of Bozeman recently installed a 10-kilowatt Bergey wind turbine at the BBAR Ranch in Tom Minor Basin near Livingston. The installation is the second metered system on Park Electric Cooperative's electric grid. The unit supplements power to a ranch house, barn and water heating units that are all on the same meter. Independent Power plans to retrofit the heaters with bubblers to use power more efficiently. The turbine was mounted on a lattice tower.


Wind Power in Utah Not Just a Lot of Hot Air
The Salt Lake Tribune reports in a copyright story about Utahns working with the Utah Energy Office to learn whether wind can be turned into a crop. "Wind is a fact of life in this rural Box Elder County community (Collinston), a nuisance no one can pull, poison or pray out of existence. But Lorin and Sherry Bingham and their grown children have begun to look at wind another way," writes reporter Kristen Moulton. More …

DEQ Lists Renewable Energy Tax Incentives for 2002 Tax Year
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has compiled a list of all incentives – tax and otherwise – that Montana offers for renewable energy development. Some are for individuals only; some are for businesses only; many are for both. Not all the non-tax incentives on the list are fully funded at this time; however, since they're on the books, they're on the list. The incentives apply to most kinds of renewable energy. Ethanol and alternative fuels are in a separate section.

Tax Incentives

Under the Big Sky Greening Conference 
Set June 11-13

Yellowstone National Park officials announced the third "greening" conference in six years to be held June 11, 12, and 13, 2003 at Big Sky. The park has joined with two Montana grassroots organizations to help sponsor the conference. Ethanol Producers And Consumers (EPAC) and Headwaters Cooperative Recycling Project (HCRP) will co-host the event. "The park prides itself in being a National Leader in the areas of sustainability and environmental conservation through such partnerships," a spokesman said. 

The conference will focus on the expanded production and use of biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel; regional recycling and composting opportunities; a variety of pollution prevention topics, and the latest technologies in environmental stewardship. Other conference highlights include an alternatively fueled vehicle display focusing on future modes of transportation, as well as a wide variety of vendor and sponsor exhibits.

Additional major sponsors include the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the State of Montana, and Unilever Cooperation.

The three-day event will culminate with the dedication of a recently constructed regional composting facility located near West Yellowstone, followed by an interpretive tour to Old Faithful using alternatively fueled vehicles.

For more information, contact:
Shirley Ball, Executive Director of EPAC – 406-785-3722
Kathy Jackson, Executive Director of HCRP – 406-431-1247
Jim Evanoff, Management Assistant, Yellowstone National Park – 406-344-2311

Conference Brochure

NorthWestern Seeking Wind Proposals

Lands Energy Consulting of Seattle has announced the NorthWestern Energy solicitation for wind generation. Responses to the 21-page request for wind-power proposals are due Feb. 14. NorthWestern is asking for proposals for 10 years and 20 years. Potential generators may bid on projects of different sizes. The minimum requirement is 10 megawatts. NorthWestern encourages companies to bid in increments of 25 megawatt blocks.

NorthWestern Energy Wind Generation RFP

Need Energy Efficiency 
and Renewable Energy Information?

The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse provides fact sheets, brochures, videos and publications on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 3048, Merrifield, VA 22116
  • Phone between 7am-4pm CT, Monday-Friday. 1-800-363-3732 or for the hearing impaired call 1-800-273-2957 8am-6pm.
  • Fax 1-703-893-0400
  • Internet: The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network or EREN is a gateway to energy efficiency and renewable energy information sources.
  • Internet: 

Yellowstone Provides Test for Biodiesel Vehicles
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality spearheaded a project to demonstrate biodiesel use in Yellowstone National Park. With visitation increasing yearly, there is a need for more efficient transportation, such as buses, and reduced pollution, odors, and smoke caused by tourism transportation. Biodiesel is any plant or animal fat that processed with an alcohol to make the methyl or ethyl esters of the oil useable in current production diesel engines. Yellowstone offered the opportunity to demonstrate this low emission, biodegradable fuel in an environmentally sensitive and extremely cold area. Such areas may prove to be a near-term niche market for this and similar bio-based fuels. Locally produced rapeseed ethyl ester (REE) could be part of the remedy to reduce pollution generated by diesel-powered vehicles in Yellowstone. Read more about the biodiesel demonstration.

Energy from the Big Yellow Orb
Here Comes The Sun 

Mark Ohrenschall reports on the Northwest Solar Summit in the latest issue of Con.Web.

In these darkest days of Northwest winter, Con.WEB brings you some sunshine – in the form of a special section on solar energy.

The special section looks at the solar industry's future and its generalized growth, particularly the rise in grid-connected applications; some solar technology trends; discussions on solar barriers and solutions; a look at Chelan County PUD's homegrown green power program, fostering a market between local customers and local solar and other renewable energy producers; a regionally available solar water-heating program from Bonneville Power Administration, via Eugene Water & Electric Board; summaries of some Northwest utilities' solar activities; and brief descriptions of some other solar programs and resources, from the Northwest and beyond.
More ...

Con.WEB is a monthly newsletter and information resource on Pacific Northwest energy conservation and renewable energy. It is produced by Energy NewsData, a Seattle- and San Francisco-based energy information services and publishing company. NewsData also publishes the Northwest energy industry newsletter Clearing Up, along with California Energy Markets and NW Fishletter. The Enernet Web site, a guide to the Western North American energy industry, is another NewsData information product.

State Coalition to Explore Hydrogen Potential

A coalition of state political and educational leaders could put Montana at the front of the hydrogen energy revolution, creating jobs and revenues while developing an environmentally friendly source of power. The goal of the Montana Futures Coalition is to create a statewide production system for hydrogen and related products, beginning with the creation of the Montana Energy Products Network and establishment of an "H2 Futures Park" at the University of Montana College of Technology in Missoula.

Spearheading the effort is COT Dean R. Paul Williamson, who presented the plan last summer during a joint meeting of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and the House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications Committee. Williamson envisions H2 Futures Park as a hydrogen-powered campus centered on education, research and development of hydrogen technologies.

"Montana is uniquely situated at a critical point in time to become a key hydrogen energy producer," Williamson said. "No other state has all the natural resources needed to meet the hydrogen challenge. We have a great opportunity to establish a strong and viable hydrogen-driven economy."

Hydrogen has tremendous growth potential, Williamson believes. Many states and nations have begun to invest in the development of hydrogen, which is a clean and economically sound alternative to fossil fuels. Ultimately, he said, H2 Futures Park would establish Montana as a leader in the production of hydrogen energy and technologies, fostering statewide economic growth.

"Keys to our success must include leadership, innovation, collaboration, proactive education and the creation of funding streams," he said. "New thinking and new skills will pave the way for extensive business and job development."

H2 Futures

For more information, contact: R. Paul Williamson, dean, College of Technology, 243-7851.

Windmills Safer Than Thought

Windmills aren't that bad for birds, according to a new study just completed for BPA. In fact, with the notable exception of Altamont Pass in California, wind farms in the United States kill zero to very few birds. The reason, the study suggests, is that wind turbine developers have learned how to design wind farms to avoid attracting birds (larger slower-moving blades and tubular rather than lattice towers). And they've learned how to site turbines away from places where birds are abundant. Potential impacts on birds are often cited as a primary concern in environmental reviews of proposed wind farms. Data in the new study says windows of buildings and cats kill more birds than windmills. The new study can help evaluate the need for detailed bird use studies at proposed wind farm sites.

Birds and Bats

BPA Report Details Impacts of 'Intermittent Resources'
The Bonneville Power Administration has released its first study on the impacts of intermittent resources – specifically wind generation – on the BPA hydro-thermal system. This preliminary study (dated September 2002, PDF, 47 pages, 365 kb) is based on only four months of operating wind plant and system load data. This study is an early analysis by the author and does not reflect any policy or marketing position by BPA. BPA is conducting a internal study using a full year of operating data to determine the long-term impacts of integrating wind power into BPA's control area.

Websites Track Montana Energy News
Looking for news about energy in Montana? Two good sources are the Energy Index maintained by Lee Enterprises and the energy news page maintained by Montana Associated Technology Roundtables, or MATR.

Besides the Energy Index, also tracks news about agriculture, employment, government, infrastructure, Montana elections, natural resources, pollution, rivers and waterways, taxes, tribal issues and wildlife. The site includes links to Lee Enterprises’ Montana newspapers.

The MATR page is updated daily with economic and other relevant information from the state, region and world "that can foster increased economic success in Montana." It also contains a large library of previous information organized by category. A weekly newsletter conveniently compiles news of the week into a single digest. According to its mission statement, MATR provides networking and information opportunities to the entrepreneurs, investors and professionals in Montana and the inland Northwest.


Database Updates Renewable Energy Incentives
Thee break-even cost for Montana consumers to invest in renewable energy technologies has improved in recent years, thanks to a collection of financial incentives ranging from utility grants to income tax breaks.

To learn more about these incentives, check the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE), a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and selected federal incentives that promote renewable energy.


Established in 1995, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Power Technologies and managed by the North Carolina Solar Center. 

Montana Green Power has put together a list of Montana incentives based on information from the DSIRE website.

Eastern Montana Group Backs Energy Projects

Billings Gazette
reporter Claire Johnson reports in a recent issue about the formation of a group of Public officials, business people and individuals in Eastern Montana in who support environmentally sound energy development.

"We believe with new technology and modern methods that significant economic benefits can be enjoyed by our communities through responsible development of energy," Tod Kasten, a Circle rancher, told Johnson. "And we believe development can be done without any adverse impacts to our environment."

The non-profit group, called Montanans for Responsible Energy Development, is based in Miles City. Johnson reports that so far, the organization has about 35 members, including county commissioners, legislators, business people and individuals. State Sen. Mack Cole, R-Hysham, is chairman. Cole said the broad-based group will focus on how the state can use its natural resources to help boost the state's and local communities' economies. More ...

Kasten, a founding member of the group, told Montana Green Power that MRED hopes to have as many as 2,000 members by the end of 2003.

MRED Mission Statement

Calculate Your Solar Power System Savings

The Clean Power Estimator calculates the amount you can save on your energy bills by installing a solar power system. It also estimates the amount of pollution you can prevent by using solar energy. Enter your zip code (or leave it blank if you do not know the zip code for your location), select your customer type, and press enter to estimate the cost of solar.

The Clean Power Estimator is maintained by BP Solar, which manufactures, designs, markets, and installs a wide range of crystalline silicon and new generation thin film solar electric products and systems.

Clean Power Estimator

Rural Montana Magazine 
Reports on Green Power

Mack McConnell of Rural Montana magazine, the periodical of Montana’s rural electric cooperatives, reports on green power in the November 2002 issue.

Here’s an excerpt:

Alternative energy sources, most of which are often called "green power," have received increased attention nationwide since the California energy debacle. Although prices in the wholesale electricity market have dropped since then, energy issues are still hot topics.

Alternative energy sources are seen by some groups as ways to avoid future energy crises. The concepts of alternative energy generation are not new. Windmills and fossil fuel burning generators were providing electricity to some farms and ranches before distribution systems were built. Those generation methods fell by the wayside when utilities' distribution systems began providing cheaper, more convenient and safer electric power.

Mostly for environmental reasons, awareness of green power sources gradually grew through the last half of the 20th Century. Government incentives have played a role in developing those sources. Recent incentives have increased the economic viability of some green power projects. There is much confusion about exactly what are alternative energy sources and which of those sources are considered green.

"Green power is generally considered to be renewable resources that don't consume fossil fuels," said John Hines. Hines, one of two Montana representatives on the Northwest Public Power Council (NWPPC), was interviewed recently in the council's Montana office in Helena. The council makes policy recommendations concerning power issues in the Northwest. Montana, Oregon, Idaho and Washington are represented on the council.

"Some people don't consider hydropower to be green even though it is a renewable resource and does not deal with fossil fuels," Hines continued. "One reason for that is some groups want to see other green power sources pursued and put into utility portfolios. Because most of the electricity in the Northwest is generated at dams, if hydropower were considered green, it could lessen the emphasis on those other sources. Also, the large hydro dams are detrimental to fish, especially migrating salmon. Therefore, hydropower is not considered to be as environmentally friendly as other green sources of power."

Green power, a piece of the puzzle

Renewable Energy Atlas of the West 
Shows Montana's Resources in Full Color

Montanans who want a vivid view of renewable energy in the state need look no further than the Renewable Energy Atlas, an 80-page, full-color presentation of the renewable energy resources in the West, including newly released high-resolution wind maps of the Pacific Northwest.

The Atlas also profiles solar, geothermal and biomass power. It's intended for anyone interested in renewable energy, including advocates, developers, landowners, and policy makers.

Sponsored by the Hewlett Foundation and The Energy Foundation, the Atlas was created by the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies, Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (SEED), Green Info Network and Integral GIS. Using state-of-the-art GIS technology, the Atlas brings together the best existing renewable resource maps and data into a single comprehensive, publicly available document and interactive website. It does not provide a new regional assessment of renewable resources, but rather shows the current understanding of these resources throughout the West and highlights the issues affecting their development. In addition, it identifies areas where new data are needed in order to represent more accurately the region's renewable energy resources. To view an online version of the Atlas or order a hard copy, visit

PSC OKs NorthWestern Green Power Tags

Customers of NorthWestern Energy will soon be able to buy "green power" from the utility. On October 16, the Montana Public Service Commission issued an interim order approving NWE’s green power service. NWE proposes to offer all customers the attributes of renewable power generation (through a method known as green tags). For $2 per 100 kilowatt-hour block, a charge that is in addition to all other tariff charges, NWE customers can buy green energy, or energy from a renewable resource such as wind power.

In July 2002, the Public Service Commission issued public notice of NWE’S application. Comments were received from Natural Resources Defense Council, Renewable Northwest Project, Commercial Energy of Montana (power marketer), Montana Electric Buying Cooperative (power marketer), Montana Environmental Information Center, and Bonneville Environmental Foundation (green tag buyer and seller). None of those commenting opposed the utility’s filing as a first step in its efforts to provide a green power service. Most of those commenting suggested something needs to be done now and more needs to be done through time. Some suggested further procedures through a structured setting with a reasonable and definite schedule.

The commission agreed with NWE and those commenting on the following points:

First, it OK’d the utility’s proposal on an interim, temporary, first-step basis "as a reasonable effort to implement green power service." Second, the commission said, "more does need to be done and it should be done within a time reasonable to all concerned."

The commission ordered the utility to implement the order as soon as possible but imposed qualifications. It said NWE should consider, to the extent marketers will be involved, all Montana licensed power marketers to assist in marketing.

The commission also asked the utility to file another request for approval of "an advanced, next-step green power service" or a continuation of the current program, if necessary, no later than March 25, 2003.

Interim Public Service Commission Order
Green Power Product Offering
Schedule No. EGPS-1
Montana Electricity Buying Cooperative

You can also read more about the Green Choice plan at the Montana Environmental Information Center website.

Montana Renewable 
Energy Association

The Montana Renewable Energy Association (MREA) was established in December 2000 as a nonprofit corporation to support the development of renewable energy in Montana.

Read Montana Green Power's online monthly newsletter.

E-News Sheets Deliver Green Energy Updates 

Want to keep informed about renewable energy? Try these electronic newsletters that bring the latest green energy news to your desktop.

Energize Montana
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s Energize Montana website provides information on energy efficiency and renewable energy at home, at work or at school.

Earth at Night

See the Earth at night
in a satellite image taken  Nov. 27, 2000. Electric  lights highlight developed 

Teachers ...

Check our list of 
resources for helping
kids learn about
renewable energy.


Definitions of key
renewable energy
and electrical terms.

Harvesting Clean 
Energy Conference

Partial proceedings from  the Harvesting Clean Energy Conference Oct. 
9-11, 2001,  in Great Falls.

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