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Clean energy can usher in an age of prosperity

| March 5, 2021 7:00 AM

To the editor:

President Joe Biden has made it clear that clean energy is a priority for his administration. Clean energy will lead to jobs and prosperity if Montanans embrace the opportunity.

Anyone who has spent time in eastern Montana has probably noticed that we have tremendous wind generation capability. Montana also has surprisingly good solar energy potential. Oregon and Washington have committed to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 and 2045, respectively. Both states have committed to phasing out electricity generated by coal-fired power plants such as Colstrip within this decade.

Montana can replace that loss by becoming a major supplier of clean energy. In addition to providing a stable source of revenue for the state, the development of clean energy resources would create many new jobs in construction and related trades. Power generation facilities, power lines and related infrastructure will need to be constructed and tied to the regional power grid.

The Biden clean energy plan proposes to replace heating oil and natural gas with electricity in homes and buildings. Electrifying homes and buildings would include the installation of heat pumps, electrical appliances, electric vehicle charging stations and “smart” electrical systems.

In order to decrease the total demand for electricity, energy efficiency would be improved by renovating six million existing homes and buildings by 2025. These programs will create many good-paying jobs.

Similar to the COVID vaccine push, Biden has promised a massive investment in research and development through public-private partnerships to rapidly bring new technology to market. There are many opportunities for Montana-based businesses and universities to play a role in developing technology, including large-scale energy storage, smart grids, energy efficient building design, carbon sequestration on forest and agricultural lands, and carbon capture products.

Transitioning to a clean energy economy will create millions of new jobs across the country. Most of these initiatives will provide jobs in rural as well as urban areas. We need to make sure Montana takes an active role in harnessing these new opportunities for our communities.

Kris Newgard

Kootenai Climate Group