With energy costs on the rise, a bill introduced in the Montana Legislature could lower utility bills while providing jobs and energy security for Montana consumers.
Legislative Reporter Holly Baker heard from supporters of the bill, which would create an Energy Efficiency Weatherization Standard from both NorthWestern Energy and the Montana Environmental Information Center. Listen to her report here.
House Bill 641 would require gas and electric utilities that serve more than 20,000 customers to perform a study to estimate how much energy could be saved in their service area by the year 2020.
It would also set biennial goals to reduce energy use through 2020, as well as implement energy efficiency measures from power plants to meet energy reduction goals by the year 2020.
Bill sponsor and Democratic Representative Art Noonan of Butte says the legislation provides a process to ensure energy efficiency is the priority.
“Before we ask the questions about what we need to build, before we ask the questions about what type of investment we have to make, we have to know what we can get in terms of energy efficiency.”
Noonan says while some corporations may want to opt out of the process, the bill is not about the corporate bottom line.
“This bill is not about convenience for those people that provide us with electricity, this is about the bottom line for consumers, this is the question we have to ask for rate payers.”
Anne Hedges of the Montana Environmental Information Center says ever since deregulation was passed by the 1997 legislature energy prices have risen for the consumer. She says NorthWestern Energy’s support for the bill shows there is progress in energy policy.
“The way to achieve savings is not through buying or building new power plants necessarily. It is through energy efficiency and renewable energy. We have to move beyond the status quo and this bill will help us get there.”
John Vincent of the Montana Public Service Commission says the bill holds promise for job creation in making buildings more energy efficient.
Holly Baker is reporting from the state capitol for the University of Montana’s Legislative News Service.
By Holly Baker, Legislative News Service, Guest Writer, 3-24-09 – http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/montana_legislation_would_create_energy_efficiency_weatherization_standard/C37/L37/