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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

State Lawmakers Work On Net Metering, CO2 Emissions

Solar panel installation.
Wayne National Forest (CC-BY-2)
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Solar panel installation.

Update 06/08/15: In an earlier version of this story we misattributed a quote from Sen. Pat Connell to Rep Tom Steenberg. The story has been updated to correct this error.

A panel of state lawmakers is looking into a renewable-energy issue that died in the 2015 legislature.

The eight-member, bi-partisan panel will spend most of its time looking into “net metering”, the technology that lets electricity users get paid for contributing excess power generated by their solar panels or wind turbines. Green-power advocates want to expand net metering in Montana, but Republican Senator Pat Connell says the legislature wasn’t ready to deal with the issue earlier this year.

"It died because we did not have adequate information base to go forward.  It’s the intention of the committee members that we will go forward."

Four members of the energy committee were also appointed to a panel to monitor the state’s plans for limiting carbon emissions from power plants. Chairman Keith Regier says the “clean power plan” handed down by the federal government could have dire consequences.

"The price of energy could go a lot higher because of complying with these rules so those are the things we’re going to be studying and taking a good hard look at."

The EPA proposal calls for Montana coal-fired power plants to cut carbon emissions more than 20 percent over the next 15 years to cut back on greenhouse gasses. Critics fear that would mean plant closings and layoffs.

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