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Montana

 

An arrow graphic shows that Montana’s renewable portfolio standard is set at 15% in 2015.

Carve-out: None
Tracking system: Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS), Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS)

Montana’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires public utilities and competitive electricity suppliers with more than 50 customers to obtain 5% of their retail sales from renewables by 2015 and maintain the percentage each year thereafter.

Montana has a RPS requirement of 15% for 2015 and each year after that. Net metering policy in the state requires unused net excess generation to be credited to the utility on an annual basis. The state has fast-track and expediated interconnection processes for systems under 50 kW and 2 MW respectively. The state offers low-interest loans, corporate and personal tax credits, and property tax exemptions and reductions to encourage renewable energy generation.

Net Metering

Net metering is regulated in NorthWestern Energy (NWE) and the Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) service territories. A resolution passed in April 2015 that required the Montana Legislature’s Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee (ETIC) to conduct a net metering costs and benefits study. The ETIC met in early 2016 to discuss its findings and to understand if the existing state net metering policy needs change.

Montana Electric Cooperatives' Association (MECA) adopted model interconnection guidelines in 2001 and a revised net-metering policy in September 2008. Twenty-six electric cooperatives in Montana have completely or partly adopted net-metering policies for their customers. According to the model policy, net excess generation by customer generators of co-ops can be carried forward to the next billing cycle but is not purchased by the co-op. Thus, the primary goal of such a generating facility is to offset its electrical requirements. Unused kWh are granted to the co-op at the end of the 12-month billing cycle.   

System size limit: 50 kW at NWE and MDU and 10 kW for electric cooperatives in Montana

Aggregate cap: No specified

Credit: Net excess generation is credited at the retail rate

RECs: Not addressed

Meter aggregation: Not addressed

Interconnection

These interconnection standards, adopted in August 2010, are applicable to the investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and cooperatives for systems up to 10 MW. These rules require interconnection equipment to follow the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 1547-2003 and UL 1741 standards while incorporating National Electrical Code requirements. Interconnection review process is dependent on system size (see below).

Eligible Systems Type of Interconnection
≤ 50 kW Fast-track process
>50kW and ≤2 MW Expedited review
>2MW and ≤10 MW Regular interconnection review

System size limit: 10 MW

Liability insurance: Not addressed

External disconnect switch: External utility disconnect switch is required for all small generator interconnections.

Third Party Ownership

The status of third-party power purchase agreements in Montana is unclear.

Community Solar

There are currently no statewide community solar policies or programs in Montana.

State Incentive Programs

Program Administrator Incentive
Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Program (AERLP) Montana Department of Environmental Quality Customers installing alternative energy systems or implementing energy conservation measures are eligible for loans up to a maximum of $40,000 to be repaid within ten years. Annual interest rates are applicable for the loan term, and the interest rate for 2016 is 3.25%.  
Alternative Energy Tax Credit Montana Department of Environmental Quality Commercial and net metering renewable energy investments of more than $5,000 are eligible for tax rebates of 35% against personal or corporate tax on the income generated by the investment. This credit is required to be taken the year the system is in service and can be carried over for seven years. If the project is 5 MW or larger, on a reservation, and meets other specific criteria, the tax credit can be extended for 15 years.
Residential Alternative Energy System Tax Credit Montana Department of Environmental Quality Residential customers are eligible for tax rebates of $500 for an individual tax payer and up to $1,000 for a household by installing renewable energy systems. This can be carried over for four years.
Renewable Energy Systems Exemption Montana Department of Environmental Quality A 100% property tax exemption is allowed on an investment of up to $20,000 for a single-family residential dwelling and up to $100,000 for a multi-family, nonresidential dwelling. This tax exemption is applicable for renewable systems and can be availed for 10 years after installation of the system.
Generation Facility Corporate Tax Exemptions Montana Department of Environmental Quality New renewable energy generation facilities with a maximum capacity of 1 MW have 100% property tax exemption for five years after start of operation.
Property tax reduction for renewable generating facilities of 1 MW or greater Montana Department of Environmental Quality Renewable energy generation facilities with a minimum capacity of 1 MW have 50% reduction in the new or expanded industry property tax for five years after their construction permit is issued. For the next five years, the percentage of taxable amount is increased in increments of 10% each year, until the tenth year where the full amount is taxed.

Utility Incentive Programs

NWE has an E+ renewable energy program which has custom incentives for projects benefitting organizations and communities with nonprofit or government facilities. Through the E+ Green program, customers are allowed to purchase renewable energy environmental benefits in 100 kWh blocks at $0.02/kWh. This money is used to fund new renewable energy projects.

Resources

The list below provides some resources for each type of policy or program. Please reference and contact relevant authorities and local utilities for the most up-to-date and accurate information on state and utility policies and incentive programs.

Renewable Portfolio Standard

Net metering and interconnection

Programs and incentives

Utility incentives