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Montana's Energy Policy

The Montana Legislature first adopted an energy policy for the state in 1993 through the passage of Senate Bill 225. The language of the resulting statute was based on a two-year study conducted by the Legislature’s Environmental Quality Council to develop recommendations for an energy policy and options to implement the resulting policy.

Montana’s original energy policy goal statement declared:
 
“It is the policy of the state of Montana to promote energy efficiency, conservation, production, and consumption of a reliable and efficient mix of energy sources that represent the least social, environmental, and economic costs and the greatest long-term benefits to Montana citizens.”
 
The law also called for a continual review of this energy policy statement and to “provide for a balance between a sustainable environment and a viable economy”.
 
Montana’s current energy policy preserves the original language and includes 24 supplemental policy goals added during the 2011 Legislative Session. The full state energy policy goal statement, found in Montana Code Annotated 90-4-1001, can be read here but a sampling of these goals include:
  • enhance existing energy development and create new diversified energy development from all of Montana's abundant energy resources;
  • increase utilization of Montana's vast coal reserves in an environmentally sound manner that includes the mitigation of greenhouse gas and other emissions
  • expand exploration and technological innovation, including using carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery in declining oil fields to increase output;
  • expand Montana's petroleum refining industry as a significant contributor to Montana's manufacturing sector in supplying the transportation energy needs of Montana and the region;
  • develop biomass plants to generate heat for industrial use, electricity, or both, and as a means to manage Montana's forests;
  • promote the generation of low-cost electricity with large-scale utility wind generation and small-scale distributed generation;
  • increase the capacity of existing transmission lines in existing corridors and maximize the potential of existing transmission lines;
  • strengthen Montana's level of participation in regional transmission efforts and organizations, recognizing that endeavors to improve the management of the transmission grid often require a broad, regional approach;
  • use new and innovative technologies, such as compressed air energy storage, batteries, flywheels, hydrogen production, smart grid, smart garage, and intrahour balancing services to address wind integration;
  • ensure that adequate amounts of the electrical energy produced at the lowest cost in this state are reserved for Montana's families, businesses, and industries.