Montana Renewables Development Action Plan
The Montana Renewables Development Action Plan was the result of seven months of intensive multi-stakeholder conversations that concluded in June 2018.
Participants included all of the utility companies owning a share of the Colstrip power plant, the Bonneville Power Administration, Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s office, renewable energy developers, clean energy advocates, grid operators, state agencies, and other energy experts.
The goal was to bring these key players together to establish an agreed-upon set of facts about: 1) the transmission system in Montana and the Pacific Northwest; 2) the capabilities of Montana’s renewable resources; 3) any technical and physical obstacles to using the existing system to export Montana renewable energy, and 4) the needs of the region’s utilities as well as its renewable energy developers.
The general consensus of stakeholders was that the process was a great success.
Selected Key Findings
- A statement of fact that the electricity generated by the Colstrip power plant can be entirely replaced, megawatt-for-megawatt, with renewable energy electricity, with minimal costs or technical modifications. (see page 11, finding 8).
- Thanks to this process additional transmission capacity leading out of Montana toward the West Coast was discovered, which can be filled with Montana’s low-cost, high-value renewable energy and help power the region. (see page 9, second paragraph)
- It was discovered that Montana’s renewable energy will have no problem qualifying for Washington state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard thanks to plentiful availability of “dynamic transfer capability.” It was previously unknown how much of this capability was available. If little or none existed, it could have been a major impediment to development of Montana wind resources. (see page 14, finding 17)