by Sen. Jon Tester
A recent opinion has been making the rounds in Montana newspapers, claiming that wind energy is too expensive and would somehow result in higher energy prices in our state. Thats what I call junk science. You dont have to look very far to see the jobs and economic development that come with a renewable energy standard.
When I was in the Montana Senate in 2005, I passed bills creating Montanas renewable energy standard and cutting property taxes on wind energy development. A few months later, construction began on Montanas first wind farm near Judith Gap. It has produced millions of dollars in economic benefits since.
Folks in Cut Bank, Great Falls and Baker have also seen the number of jobs wind energy creates and what it does for the local tax base. Soon, folks in places like Big Timber, Shelby, Martinsdale and Chester could too.
Today Montana produces nearly 400 megawatts of wind energyup from zero just ten years agoand more wind farms are in the works. Why? Because wind energy is low-cost, its easy to create, and it creates jobs. We are also investing in the infrastructure needed to get our energy to the marketplace. The Montana-Alberta Tie Line and the wind farms it will connect will lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in our state, and its creating good skilled-labor jobs.
Under Montanas renewable energy standard, Northwestern Energy doesnt even have to buy wind power if its more expensive than the average of their other sources. And the cost of energy from Judith Gap is far below market rates. So I wont buy any argument that wind is expensive and will drive up your power rates. Neither should you.
Of course, we still have a long way to go to address our nations energy crisis. Cutting our dependence on foreign oil is a matter of national and economic security.
Thankfully Montana stands to be a world leader in energy development thanks to our wind, our oil and gas, our coal, our biofuels, our geothermal and solar energy, and our cutting edge research. Im not going to turn my back on any of these resources. But I am going to fight like heck to make sure were creating jobs across our energy sectornot stifling competition.
Finally, some want Montanans to believe a renewable energy standard and tax credits are subsidies. Thats more junk. They just put wind on an equal footing with traditional energy resources that continue to receive significant subsidies without a renewable energy standard even in place. Energy prices in Montana arent going up because of wind. We have deregulation to thank for that. In fact, that bad decision by the Montana Legislature was the reason I got involved in politics more than a decade ago.
Dont believe these out-of-state claims that renewable energy is somehow bad for Montana. Theres room for all energy development in Montana. And as we move forward with energy policy in Congress, I ask you to research the facts. Feel free to call my office. Just know I wont ever compromise Montana, the resources it has to offer, and the jobs well create across our energy sector and across our state. ### U.S. Senator Jon Tester is a third-generation farmer from Big Sandy.
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A recent opinion has been making the rounds in Montana newspapers, claiming that wind energy is too expensive and would somehow result in higher energy prices in our state. That’s what I call junk science. You don’t have to look very far to see the jobs and economic development that come with a renewable energy
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