Missoula County and the City of Missoula have joined with Helena and Bozeman in order to pursue a ‘green tariff’ to advance their shared clean energy goals.

Missoula County Sustainability Program Manager Diana Maneta explains.

“Well, it really all comes back to the goal of 100% clean electricity that Missoula City and County jointly adopted back in 2019,” said Maneta. “We were the first community in the state to adopt such a goal but both Bozeman and Helena have since adopted similar goals, and in all of those cases, that goal relates to 100% clean electricity for the community as a whole by 2030.”

Maneta explained the concept of a ‘green tariff’.

Northwestern Energy was directed in 2019 by the Public Service Commission to explore the development of something called a ‘green tariff’ and to work with stakeholders to do that, so our local governments have all been participating in that stakeholder process,” she said. “We really see this as one of our more promising near term opportunities to get new, clean energy built on a large scale to help achieve our 100% clean electricity goals.”

Maneta clearly stated that the ‘green tariff’ is not a tax, and that it is 100 percent voluntary for the individual consumer.

“It's important to note that ‘tariff’ in this context does not mean tax, even though I know in most contexts it does,” she said. “But in utility jargon, a tariff is just a rate that people pay for electricity, so everybody pays a tariff on their utility bill. That's just the name they use for it. So a ‘green tariff’ is a voluntary rate. It's an option for customers to buy power from newly developed renewable energy sources through a special rate on their utility bills.”

Maneta reiterated the fact that the ‘green tariff’ is not mandatory for all Northwestern Energy customers.

“This program would not have any impact on the rates of people that don't opt into participate,” she said. “So it would only affect your rate if you opt in to participate in it. And basically, if you do, then your bill would reflect both some additional costs and also some additional savings, actually, because with the new renewable energy there will be costs associated with developing it, but then it also provides value to the grid, and so your bill will reflect both of those things.”

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.”


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