Spring conference in Montana a rousing success

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Over 100 clean energy experts and advocates came to Helena May 2-3 for the highly successful Spring 2014 NW Clean & Affordable Energy Conference.

Those attending the NW Energy Coalition’s twice-yearly conference and board meeting were treated to a stirring keynote address and several challenging and meaty panel discussions. Montana Lt. Gov. Angela McLean welcomed conference attendees and Pat Smith, one of Montana’s two representatives to the region’s official power planning agency, delivered the keynote address.

Friday’s opening panel on expanding energy efficiency brought together NorthWestern Energy’s Bill Thomas along with noted Montana Public Service Commissioner Travis Kavulla, low-income advocate Jim Morton of Missoula’s Human Resources Council and Natural Resources Defense Council co-director Ralph Cavanagh.

Expanding development of clean and renewable energy sources is one of the Coalition’s primary missions.  The following panel examined export opportunities for Montana’s wind and solar resources. Panelists included Bonneville Power Administration senior vice president Larry Bekkedahl, Montana Audubon conservation director Amy Cilimburg, Gaelectric transmission chief Ted Williams and earth sciences expert Deb Hanneman of Whitehall Geogroup Inc.

New federal regulations on pollution from existing coal plants are a hot topic throughout the region. The effects on Montana’s power industry were at the forefront of the discussion Friday. Panelists included NorthWestern Energy vice present John Hines, Montana Department of Environmental Quality director Tracy Stone-Manning, Montana Environmental Information Center deputy director Anne Hedges and NRDC legal director Noah Long.

State and provincial members also met on Friday to discuss local energy issues and priorities.

As is customary, the second day of the conference featured meetings of the Coalition’s low-income and utility caucuses and the full board meeting. During that meeting, the board approved the addition of two new organizational members: Seinergy and Solar Installers of Washington.

Conference participants were also treated to a tour of the LEED Gold Montana State Fund building with many outstanding features and green building qualities that left tour goers wanting to move in!

The conference was sponsored by Clean Energy Leader NorthWestern Energy and Clean Energy Supporters AirWorks Heating and Cooling Solutions and the Montana Department of Environmental Equality.

The Coalition’s next NW Clean & Affordable Energy Conference will be Nov. 7-8 in Portland, Ore.


Conference PowerPoint presentations:

Nancy Hirsh’s presentation on EPA basics

Noah Long’s full presentation 111-d

John Hines’s presentation on 111-d

Larry Bekkedahl’s presentation on BPA transmission

Pat Smith presentation on regional power planning