Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Montana
Despite a reliance on the oil industry, Montana has embraced the renewable energy sector with some vigor and is making good strides promoting green technology. There are a number of residential and commercial incentives in place and the state set a stiff renewable portfolio standard of 15% of energy from sources such as wind and solar by the end of 2015. This standard also gave utility companies a target of getting more energy from smaller, community based initiatives.
Of the renewable technologies in Montana, wind is by far the most successful and provides some 6.5% of the state’s energy needs with more the power to add in future. Glacier Wind Farm with a capacity of 210 MW and Rim Rock Wind Farm with a capacity of 189 MW are the biggest in the state but there is a new project underway in Carbon County for a 250 MW farm. The state currently has a combined capacity for 650 MW.
The solar industry in Montana is still relatively small compared to other states but is beginning to grow. There is only 4 MW of capacity installed which puts it well down on the list of best performing states and the majority of this is residential. The solar PV industry is small with just 39 companies providing employment for around 300 staff across the region.
Future advances beside wind could see Montana tap into its geothermal potential with estimates of around 450 MW that could be nurtured over the next couple of decades. As with many other states, one eye is on the potential of biomass, particularly the development of a biofuels industry. Montana also has a number of hydroelectric plants and with areas such as the Great Falls has the added potential to develop smaller, micro systems in the future.
Solar PV Incentives in Montana
Solar PV in Montana benefits from the Federal Tax Rebate which reduces installation cost by some 30%. With net metering and incentives such as the NorthWestern Energy USB Renewable Energy Fund that also pays out substantial amounts (up to $2,000 for residential customers) there is plenty to help boost the industry at the moment. There are also low cost loan facilities such as the Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Program which is available for certain residential, public and commercial installations. For commercial and industrial uses of solar PV and other renewable technologies there is also a tax break through the Corporate Property Tax Reduction for New/Expanded Generating Facilities.
Solar PV Case Study in Montana
With plenty of rebates and incentives on offer there has never been a better time to go solar in Montana. A typical 5 kW array should set you back about $18,000 and with both the state and Federal Tax Rebate you should be able to see a return on investment within 13 years. You should be looking at a net profit over 25 years of just under £14,000 and could see the sale value of your home rise by just as much.
Solar Thermal Incentives in Montana
Solar Thermal whereby you use panels to heat the water in your home are becoming more popular across the state because they are cheap and come with most of the incentives that solar PV does. For businesses and residential properties, they represent a good long term investment and other incentives include the Residential Alternative Energy System Tax Credit which is particularly aimed at private homes and low income families.
Small Hydro Incentives in Montana
Small hydroelectric could have great potential in the rural areas of Montana and there are various incentives to help promote it. The main problem is the effect of micro hydro systems on the flow of rivers but this could be a growth industry over the next couple of decades if legislation allows it. Incentives include the Alternative Energy Investment Tax Credit (Corporate) which includes a number of eligible technologies such as biomass, wind and solar.
Geothermal Incentives in Montana
Geothermal is incentivized by both state and utility company rebates that have put a focus on this type of energy production. Ground source heat pumps can greatly reduce energy bills if installed in the right property and incentives such as Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative Residential/Commercial Efficiency Rebate Program are there to help. There is also the Residential Geothermal Systems Credit which provides a maximum incentive of $1,500.
Biomass Incentives in Montana
Biomass certainly has a huge potential in Montana as it does with many other states, though most of the focus has been on producing biofuels to date. Installations such as biomass boilers and wood chip burners benefit from the Federal Tax Rebate but also initiatives which include the Alternative Energy Investment Tax Credit (Corporate).
Wind Power Incentives in Montana
Wind power generation has increased considerably over the last few years in the state and is the most popular source of renewable energy. There are incentives for small and large wind projects which provide rebates and tax exemptions including the Alternative Energy Investment Tax Credit and a reduction in corporate property tax for renewable installations.
Overall, Montana has a good range of renewable energy incentives that cover the broad spectrum of technologies including small hydro, solar PV and thermal, wind and biomass. With these in place you should expect to see the renewables industry making big leaps forward in the coming decades.
You can find out more about renewable energy incentives for the state of Montana from the DSIRE web resource.