Missoula Commits to 100 Percent Clean, Renewable Electricity, Becomes First in Montana with Goal

The city and county join other Mountain West communities aiming to move away from fossil fuels

Summer Nelson, Sierra Club Montana Chapter, summer.nelson@sierraclub.org

MISSOULA, MT -- Last night, the Missoula City Council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution to move the city’s electricity to 100 percent clean, renewable sources by 2030. Missoula becomes the first city in Montana, a state whose energy mix is 49 percent from coal, to adopt the goal. Last week, Missoula County adopted the same 100 percent renewable commitment for the urban area of the county.

The City’s resolution establishes a formal commitment to renewable electricity community-wide, supported by an Electricity Options Report developed by Climate Smart Missoula, along with the City and County. The Report highlights pathways to 100 percent, providing guidance for implementation of the clean electricity goal. Several dozen organizations and businesses, including the Missoula Food Bank and Logjam Productions, added their names to a sign-on letter in support. Others, including the Missoula Federal Credit Union, American Lung Association, and Providence St. Patrick’s Hospital, wrote their own letters of support. Climate Smart Missoula, 350 Montana, Environment Montana, Forward Montana Foundation, Montana Sierra Club, and several more concerned citizens all partnered in the effort to bring this resolution forward.

Missoula gets most of its electricity from NorthWestern Energy, which is in the midst of revising a long-range plan for how it will produce energy in the coming years. The utility has previously proposed spending up to $1.3 billion on new fracked gas plants in the coming years that could be just as bad as coal for climate when methane leaks are taken into account. The company is taking public comment on their draft plan until May 5.

Another Mountain West city -- Boise, ID -- adopted a 100 percent renewable electricity goal last week, becoming the first city in the Gem State with the goal. Across the U.S., 117 cities have established bold 100 percent clean, renewable energy goals, with Missoula marking the 117th. Missoula Mayor John Engen had also previously signed on to the Sierra Club Ready for 100 campaign's Mayors for 100 Percent Clean Energy initative. Missoula City Council President, Bryan von Lossberg, commented the resolution promotes customer choice regarding the type of electricity used. The resolution should result in economic benefits as well; Boise expects its transition will provide $610 million in benefits to their community.  

In response, Summer Nelson, Director of the Sierra Club Montana Chapter, issued the following statement:

“I am proud of Missoula becoming the first city in Montana and the 117th nationwide to commit to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity. The Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club is committed to continue working with the community and City and County leadership to implement this transition and ensure clean electricity is affordable and accessible to everyone. We are so grateful to all the community members and partners who laid the foundation for this resolution to be considered and passed, and those who are ready to do the hard work of implementing this commitment.”

Amy Cilimburg, Executive Director of Climate Smart Missoula, issued the following:

With the passage of this resolution we can now get to work moving our options forward. We are ready to work with NorthWestern Energy and others to achieve a clean electricity transition, and we hope the aspirations and concerns of our community will inspire innovative responses and solutions.

Bill Geer, from 350 Montana, issued the following:

““There are hundreds of organizations and individuals who are already striving towards the vision of 100% clean electricity and a livable future for Missoula in a variety of ways. We see this resolution as a commitment by our city and county officials to work alongside those efforts.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.