Community Solar Energy Part of Climate Protection Plan

alternative energy from Choose Solar
Community Solar

As part of an effort to further protect the environment and reduce the adverse effects of climate change, four Montana governments devised a plan to expand the availability of solar or wind energy. Among the measures included in the plan is the use of community solar energy facilities to provide low-cost energy options to homeowners throughout Montana.

Devised by Missoula County, the City of Missoula, the City of Helena, and the City of Bozeman, the plan involves customers of NorthWestern Energy. When it comes to community solar energy, the plan outlines that, if it’s approved, Missoula customers would have the option to purchase power from an installation in the region. Since the plan is still under development, it’s unclear as to whether additional cities will be able to provide community solar energy to its customers.

The core concept of the plan is to bring more clean energy to Montana. To do so, the four governments brought in a consultant to help devise a “green tariff” to provide a discounted electricity rate for those wanting to partake in clean, renewable energy. Though the plan doesn’t outline how much the tariff would be, Missoula County’s sustainability program manager, Diana Maneta, confirmed that it would not be a mandatory rate.

Maneta stated that the program’s point is to keep energy as affordable as possible, including community solar energy. The four governments want to entice customers of NorthWestern Energy to switch to clean power, both as a measure to save money but to also have a positive effect on the environment.

Because of its affordability and accessibility, community solar energy options are a viable means of accomplishing what the four Montana governments set out to do. However, it’s not the only option that the state has, and the plan will explore other means of delivering clean, renewable energy to NorthWestern customers. 

Currently, the consultant hired by the city and county governments is still determining the cost of the green tariff. According to Maneta, when customers sign up for the green tariff, it would be a reduced rate from regular electricity. 



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