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Current Events: Combatting climate change in Missoula

Posted at 10:32 AM, Dec 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 13:00:51-05

MISSOULA — This edition of Current Events takes a look at Missoula’s efforts to fight climate change on a local level.

“You might remember in 2019 when the city and county adopted a resolution pledging to have clean electricity by the year 2035. It's been an ambitious plan and going on about three years since they adopted that,” noted Missoula Current editor Martin Kidston. “This week as they started to close down 2021 and look ahead, the city found money in the budget to hire a clean energy specialist to help them make inroads in a clean energy plan.”

“The city council will also be looking at ways to regulate energy and the power consumed by the marijuana industry as it comes online in the city next year with recreational sales. On the county side we saw a few weeks ago they unveiled the 400-kilowatt solar array on top of the jail. It's one of the largest consumers of energy on the county side,” Kidston said.

“The city and the county are also working with the Northwest Power and Consumer Council, which regulates electricity across the northwest. And they're asking them to take their latest plan and move it forward a little bit as far as renewables go, and as far as storage,” Kidston continued. “And of course, the city of Missoula is working with NorthWestern Energy to adopt the state's first green tariff. There's a lot afoot, a lot going on. These things take time but they're pecking away at it.

"The Clean Energy Specialist will be looking at precisely at how the city can reduce its carbon footprint, how it can reduce its consumption of electricity, any retro-fits they can make. They'll be taking a more in-depth look at aspects that the city can go further in pursuing that pledge to reduce that carbon footprint and to achieve clean electricity by a set year,” Kidston explained.

“I think they do think that they can do something that will matter. I think it's something of pie in the sky to think that they will see 100% clean electricity. That's going to depend a lot on where they get their power. And now NorthWestern Energy says that 65% of the electricity used by Missoula comes from a clean energy source. But that still leaves 35% of the power out there that's dirty fuel.”

“Unless NorthWestern is going to take some steps as well, the city and the county probably won't be able to achieve 100% clean electricity,” Kidston explained. “But they will all tell you that they have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint and do what we can to address this global challenge which is climate change.