Missoula County, the City of Missoula, the City of Bozeman and the City of Helena this week entered into an interlocal agreement pledging to pursue a green tariff to advance their shared clean energy goals. Over the past two years, all four local governments have adopted resolutions committing to 100% clean electricity by 2030.
The interlocal agreement authorizes the four local governments to jointly hire a consultant with technical expertise in green tariffs and utility rate design to work collaboratively with NorthWestern Energy and inform the development of a green tariff that most effectively advances the local governments’ 100% clean electricity goals. All four local governments had previously allocated funds in their FY21 budgets to support this effort.
A green tariff is not a tax. Rather, it is a mechanism by which customers of regulated utilities have the option to buy power from newly developed renewable energy sources through a special rate (or “tariff”) on their utility bills. In 2019, the Montana Public Service Commission directed NorthWestern Energy to initiate a stakeholder process to explore the development of a green tariff. This stakeholder process is currently underway, and Missoula County and the cities of Missoula, Bozeman and Helena are participating in it.
The Missoula City Council approved the interlocal agreement on Feb. 1; the Bozeman City Commission on Feb. 2; the Missoula Board of County Commissioners on Feb. 4; and the Helena City Commission on Feb. 8.
Elected officials from all four local governments expressed enthusiasm for the partnership.
Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier: “We’re so pleased to be partnering with the cities of Missoula, Bozeman and Helena. The green tariff is an important step in the right direction, but it’s only the first step. I look forward to our partnership continuing beyond this interlocal agreement as we continue to pursue our shared 100% clean electricity goals.”
Missoula City Council President Bryan von Lossberg: “It is eminently clear that Montanans value clean energy. And anyone looking forward sees we have the innovative expertise and resources to meet that vision. We invite other communities to join our collaborative effort to build the statewide energy portfolio Montana’s future demands.”
Bozeman City Commissioner Terry Cunningham: “Bozeman’s ability to meet its stated goals is dependent upon a rapid transition to renewable energy sources by the utility. Together, our communities represent about a quarter of NorthWestern’s customers, and this partnership is our best chance to exert the collective influence that will be required to facilitate this transition.”
Helena City Commissioner Sean Logan: “This agreement represents a novel and promising approach to advancing clean energy in Montana. We are optimistic that this historic collaboration between the communities and NorthWestern Energy will deliver important environmental and economic benefits to the citizens of our state.”