The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Cleaning a Spill and Reigniting a Debate in Montana

Just as the BP Gulf oil spill and the Japan nuclear plant crisis forced those communities to re-evaluate the energy produced in their backyards, the residents of Montana will soon face similar challenges.

First, though, there’s quite a mess to clean up.

On Friday, an Exxon Mobile pipeline originally buried just 12 inches below the Yellowstone River ruptured, spewing an estimated 1,000 barrels of crude oil – or about 42,000 gallons – into the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states.

The spill promises to respark a debate the pits deep-rooted extraction industries like coal and oil against the state’s iconic natural beauty. But the battle lines are far fuzzier than that, says Connor Darby, president of the nonprofit Montana Renewable Energy Association.

“On the one hand a lot of people are championing natural beauty. On the other hand, they’re trying to make a living so they can stay here,” said Darby, who points out that support for renewables is strongest in the urban areas rather than the wide open scenic parts of the state. “The mindset is for cheap energy up front that is going to help you save money and survive in one of the slower economies in the country.”

The spill, Darby believes, could help those in the rural part of the state better understand the relationship between energy makeup, policy decisions and rural protection.

“Like any major disaster we’ve seen, it really makes people stand up straight and pay attention to the problems with our existing system and open their eyes to options that exist, not only as consumers but as producers of their own energy,” he said.

To get there, Darby said there’s a lot of work that needs to be done through legislation and education.

Perhaps the most divisive energy issue facing the state is the Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI), a 1,500-megawatt (MW) transmission line that would deliver electricity mostly from renewable sources in Montana across the Western U.S. The proposal, though, has been caught up in eminent domain law.

“Despite lots of wind energy proponents, there are large numbers of land owners and other interested parties up against the proposed line,” said Darby. “It’s been a major debate.”

While on the surface, legislation has made strides in helping renewable sources come online, the Renewable Portfolio Standard established in 2005 still makes it difficult for some to compete. The RPS stipulates that utilities are not required to buy the renewable energy if the costs are 15 percent or greater than other available sources.

Some sources, like hydro, wind and biomass, are able to make the cut. Large-scale solar, though, has had a difficult time making inroads in the state.

Aside from the policy decisions, sometimes it’s the more easily understood news events like the Yellowstone River spill that allows the Montana Renewable Energy Association to slowly chip away through education.

“We’re at the point of moving beyond the early adopters of the technologies and we’re working to instill these new technologies in the mindset,” said Darby. “It’s a challenge not only in Montana but all over the country.”

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now


offshore wind

Hitachi Plans to Add Production Line for Offshore Wind Parts

Chisaki Watanabe, Bloomberg Hitachi Ltd. plans to expand its reach into the market for offshore wind projects by adding a production line to make...
Renewable energy

Leading US ICT Companies Renewables Use at 14%, and Growing

Andrew Burger Electricity consumption in the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry is growing rapidly. An...
Wind farms

Western: Streamlined Environmental Review Process for Wind Farms in Midwest ‘Takes Effect Right Away’

Jennifer Delony Western in an Aug. 26 record of decision (ROD) adopted a standardized process for collecting information and evaluati...

NextEra Commits to Hawaii’s Clean Power Goal, Local Management

Lynn Doan, Bloomberg NextEra Energy Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. made 50 new commitments as part of their proposal to merge ...


OFS Announces Commercial Availability of InvisiLight® MDU Optical Solution for Multiple Dwelling Units

OFS, a leading-edge designer, manufacturer and supplier of innovative fiber optic netwo...

Intersolar AWARD „Solar Projects in India“ – Applications being accepted until September 18

The Intersolar AWARD in the category Solar Projects in India honors projects in the fie...

New local energy partnership brings innovative solar tracker to Washington State

A new partnership will bring the innovative AllEarth Solar Tracker solar electric syste...

30 days to GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) has announced that it is only 30 days to go to t...


Cronimet / THEnergy study: In solar for mines size does not always matter - Reducing CAPEX with energy efficiency and load shifting

Munich, September 2015. Mining companies are constantly gaining interest in solar solutions because frequently solar ...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program from

Vacancy? No Problem!

Have you ever tried to sell an efficiency product or service to a prospect that owns or manages a building with high ...

Shedding Some Light on a Taxing Situation for Community-Shared Solar

For renters and for property owners with inadequate roof space, the many benefits of solar electricity may seem out o...



Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Doing Business in Europe – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

There is now 128.8 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the EU (appro...

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...


Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal...

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program f...

Vacancy? No Problem!

Have you ever tried to sell an efficiency product or service to a prospe...

Speaking Out For Hydro

In January, a columnist with Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now