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Guest column: Investing in Montana’s new energy economy

7

Chris Pope Over the next decade, Montana ratepayers will likely invest over a billion dollars into what is now being called the new energy economy.

Not since Edison electrified a New York City neighborhood in 1882 have we had such an opportunity to rethink the way we commercially produce and consume electric energy.

Looking ahead, the modernization of Edison’s grid will lower the consumer costs, creating many thousands of permanent, well-paying jobs. It will prepare the grid for significant new loads like electric transportation, and in doing so it will reduce a major source of air pollution known to directly threaten the core health of Montana and the planet.

Energy innovation makes our choices almost unrecognizable from the 1980s, when Montana last built a large, central-station power plant. Our future power plants will be smaller and more modular, efficient and less polluting — with some technologies approaching zero operating emissions.

The 21st Century grid will optimize how the supply and demand of electricity is managed across larger interconnected service areas. Utilities will interact more directly with their consumers, with a new focus on providing a portfolio of energy services versus simply spinning an electric meter. Investments in utility-scale energy efficiency — LED streetlights, […]

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