Building on Missoula’s 100% Renewable Energy Goal
MISSOULA GOES GREEN
Missoula, the second-largest city in Montana, recently committed to 100% renewable energy. The Missoula city council and county commission voted unanimously to powering the city and county entirely on renewable energy by 2030 in a meeting on April 4, 2019. Once achieved, this bold pledge will place Missoula among the greenest cities in the US.
Reaching complete dependence on solar, wind, and hydro-power is a truly ambitious goal and one that is not easily accomplished. Fortunately, Missoula has a solid head start since its energy supply is already around 60% renewables. The city and county governments will be collaborating with local provider Northwestern Energy as well as local and regional solar and wind companies to reach the last 40%.
Montana is currently 42nd in the nation for solar power generation and holds a similar rank for jobs in the solar field despite having excellent potential for solar. The state has seen below-average growth in solar adoption, but things seem to be turning around. This new commitment will help push Missoula and the state of Montana towards the top in terms of generating clean energy and providing important jobs to the areas surrounding Missoula and beyond.
MONTANA SOLAR IMPROVES
The city of Missoula, home to the University of Montana and over 70,000 Montanans have been growing steadily for decades and will be the first city in Montana to adopt 100% renewable energy standards. The state as a whole pledged to reach 15% renewable energy by 2015, a goal it successfully reached. However, no further state-level goals have been set and the state’s Net Metering policy has recently come under attack. Hopefully, Missoula’s impressive renewable goal can be an example for other cities or the state as a whole to reach further on implementing renewable energy on a broad scale.
PLEDGING 100% ACROSS THE NATION
This pledge places Missoula among the growing ranks of 115 other US cities that have vowed to completely transition to clean energy sources in the coming years. Missoula County joins Aspen and Summit County in Colorado, as well as the states California, Washington, New Mexico, Hawaii, Nevada, and Washington D.C. in committing to 100% renewable energy goals. The trend is catching on across the nation and the world among municipalities and cities looking to intelligently plan for their energy future.
In addition to getting out ahead of an inevitable transition away from fossil fuels, these cities and states will undoubtedly see financial savings in the long term. The development of green and renewable energy takes upfront investment but has a reliable payback in utility cost savings. By moving away from carbon-intensive fuels like coal for their energy needs, these municipalities and cities are a net good for greenhouse gas emissions and the overall threat of global climate change. In addition to becoming more sustainable, these locations are becoming less dependent on the global fossil fuel supply chain and able to determine their own energy futures.
AMERICANS CHOOSE RENEWABLE ENERGY
With large states like California and Washington signing on to renewable energy goals, today 1 in 5 Americans lives in a state or city that has pledged to use 100% clean energy. As the threat of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions becomes more severe, state legislatures, city councils, and individual citizens are choosing a greener energy future for their homes, businesses, schools, and courthouses. Building a clean energy electrical grid is the first step in decarbonizing the entire economy, and having green, renewable electricity will make transitioning other aspects of the carbon-reliant economy, such as transportation, manufacturing, or building heating and cooling easier.
All across the US, the prices of renewable energy sources like solar have been steadily dropping in the last few years. In Montana alone, the average price of solar power has dropped over 47% in just the last five years. This trend is only going to continue as solar PV technology improves and production costs fall. By stretching for a bold goal like 100% renewable, places as diverse as Missoula; Burlington, VT; St. Petersburg, FL; and the entire island of Puerto Rico are providing the demand for the huge growth in solar, wind, and other clean energy sources. Millions of Americans have begun to realize that clean, reliable energy that comes from the Sun is essential to powering our future.