by Chris de Morsella, Green Economy Post Chris is the co-editor of The Green Executive Recruiter Directory. Follow Chris on Twitter @greeneconpost

Major Green Industries with a significant presence in the state are:wind, biofuel, hydro.

The Pew Center of The States Clean Economy Report found that in 2007 Montana had 408 cleantech businesses and that the state had 2,155 green jobs. Its green sector grew very slightly at 0.2% for the decade of 1998-2007 compared with 12.7% for the overall economy.

Montana utilities are required to procure 10% of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources. That jumps to 15% in 2015; this is above and beyond large existing hydro, which currently constitutes around 40% of the state’s electric energy generation capacity (though if some legislators get their way this may be included essentially making the bill irrelevant in that no new renewable energy would need to be developed, which was definitely NOT the intent of the bill.)

Renewable Energy Jobs in Montana

Montana is seeing growth in the area of renewable energy. The state has 12 renewable energy companies and in 2009 it employed 1,045 people in renewable energy.

The state has some big wind projects and wind manufacturing facilities in the pipeline. It also has developers of next generation (non-food) biofuel. Montana also has important hydro power resources that could be developed further as well as currently under utilized geothermal resources.

Biofuels producers in Montana are working with next-generation feedstocks, such as camelina, to develop biodiesel on a large scale, and other companies are working to commercialize cellulosic ethanol.

A Bozeman-based renewable energy company, in partnership with multiple wind developers, announced plans in May 2010 to develop a large wind project complete with a pumped storage reservoir that would serve Montana, North Dakota, and Alberta. This project would cost over $2 billion to build.

In addition Montana has attracted some major (for the state) wind energy manufacturing investment with the announcement by Fuhrlander that it will locate its wind turbine manufacturing facility in Butte. The company will invest $25 million and create 150 green jobs.

Geothermal development in the state has thus far been limited to low-temperature (less than 100°C) near-surface geothermal resources used to heat buildings, grow plants in greenhouses, or heat water for aquaculture. Montana is the tentative site of a wind turbine assembly plant which would be developed and owned by a German wind company. The plant would employ 150 people.

The state has a lot of untapped geothermal potential; in fact Montana has many hot springs. Yellowstone National Park, with its numerous geysers, boiling mud pots, and other geothermal features, is certainly the most visible evidence of geothermal energy in the area. However, more than a hundred hot springs and hot water wells are located within Montana’s borders, in areas as diverse as Colstrip, Jordan, Anaconda, and, of course, the town of Hot Springs south of Kalispell. Most hot springs in Montana are found in the mountain valleys in the southwestern portion of the state, where many fault lines occur. Another area with lots of geothermal potential exists in eastern Montana, where deep groundwater aquifers may be tapped by drilling hot water wells.

This mountainous state has significant small scale hydro and run of the river hydro potential, the development of which is encouraged in the state’s renewable energy mandate for the state’s utilities (as opposed to existing large scale hydro, which is not).

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