Renewable Resource Standard (Montana)

From Open Energy Information

Last modified on February 12, 2015.

Rules Regulations Policies Program

Place Montana
Name Renewable Resource Standard
Incentive Type Renewables Portfolio Standard
Applicable Sector Investor-Owned Utility, Retail Supplier
Eligible Technologies Anaerobic Digestion, Biomass, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels, Geothermal Electric, Hydroelectric, Landfill Gas, Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal Electric, Wind, Energy Storage, Compressed Air Energy Storage (From Eligible Renewables)
Active Incentive Yes
Implementing Sector State/Territory
Energy Category Renewable Energy Incentive Programs

Credit Trading Yes (M-RETS, WREGIS)
Credit Transfers Accepted From None
Credit Transfers Accepted To M-RETS into MIRECS, NAR, NC-RETS

(Refers to tracking system compatibility only, not RPS eligibility. Please see statutes and regulations for information on facility eligibility)

Standard 15% by 2015
Technology Minimum No

Date added to DSIRE 2005-05-12
Last DSIRE Review 2013-07-24
Last Substantive Modification
to Summary by DSIRE

References DSIRE[1]


Montana’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), enacted in April 2005 as part of the Montana Renewable Power Production and Rural Economic Development Act, requires public utilities and competitive electricity suppliers to obtain a percentage of their retail electricity sales from eligible renewable resources according to the following schedule:

  • 5% for compliance years 2008-2009 (1/1/2008 - 12/31/2009)
  • 10% for compliance years 2010-2014 (1/1/2010 - 12/31/2014)
  • 15% for compliance year 2015 (1/1/2015 - 12/31/2015) and for each year thereafter

Eligible renewable resources include wind; solar; geothermal; existing hydroelectric projects (10 megawatts or less); certain new hydroelectric projects (up to 15 megawatts installed at an existing reservoir or on an existing irrigation system that did not have hydroelectric generation as of April 16, 2009); landfill or farm-based methane gas; wastewater-treatment gas; low-emission, non-toxic biomass; and fuel cells where hydrogen is produced with renewable fuels. Facilities using these resources must begin operation after January 1, 2005, and must either be located in Montana or located in another state and be delivering electricity into Montana. Two bills in 2013 expanded the RPS to include additional types of projects. SB 325 of 2013 allows wood pieces that have been treated with chemical preservatives, such as creosote, pentachlorophenol, or copper-chrome arsenic, and that are used at a facility that has a nameplate capacity of 5 megawatts or less to qualify. And SB 45 of 2013 allows expansions to existing hydroelectric projects that result in increased generation capacity to qualify. Construction on the expansion must commence on or after October 1, 2013.

Utilities and competitive suppliers can meet the standard by entering into long-term purchase contracts for electricity bundled with renewable-energy credits (RECs), by purchasing the RECs separately, or by a combination of both. The law includes cost caps that limit the additional cost utilities must pay for renewable energy and allows cost recovery from ratepayers for contracts pre-approved by the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC). RECs sold through voluntary utility green power programs may not be used for compliance. Before entering into a long-term contract to purchase RECs, with or without the associated electricity, a utility must petition the PSC to certify that the RECs were produced by an eligible renewable resource.

For utilities operating in Montana within the geographic boundaries of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, all RECs used to comply with the standard must be tracked and verified through the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS). For public utilities operating in Montana within the geographic boundaries of Midwest Reliability Organization, all RECs used to comply with the standard must be tracked and verified through the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (MRETS).

A utility or competitive supplier unable to comply with the RPS during an annual period (there is a three-month grace period) must pay an administrative penalty of $10 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for RECs that the utility failed to procure. Penalty payments may not be recovered in electricity rates. Funds derived from penalties go into the universal low-income energy assistance fund. Alternatively, a utility may petition the PSC for a short-term waiver from full compliance. If a utility or competitive supplier exceeds the standard in any year, it may carry forward the amount by which the standard was exceeded to comply with the standard in either or both of the two subsequent compliance years.

Montana's RPS includes specific procurement requirements to stimulate rural economic development. The RPS includes provisions for community renewable energy projects, defined as renewable energy projects under 25 megawatts (MW) where local owners have a controlling interest. For compliance year 2012 through compliance year 2014, public utilities (not applicable to competitive suppliers) must purchase both the renewable-energy credits (RECs) and the electricity output from community renewable-energy projects totaling at least 50 MW in nameplate capacity. For compliance year 2015 and each following year, utilities must purchase both the RECs and the electricity output from community renewable-energy projects totaling at least 75 MW in nameplate capacity. In addition, public utilities must enter into contracts that include a preference for Montana workers.

While cooperative utilities and municipal utilities are generally exempt from these requirements, cooperative and municipal utilities with 5,000 or more customers must implement a renewable-energy standard that recognizes the "intent of the legislature to encourage new renewable-energy production and rural economic development, while taking into consideration the effect of the standard on rates, reliability and financial resources."

Background Legislation (HB 681) enacted in 2007 made competitive electricity suppliers subject to the RPS. (The original law applied only to public utilities.) Legislation (SB 164) enacted in 2013 exempted public utilities serving 50 or fewer customers from the RPS requirements.

Incentive Contact

Contact Name Will Rosquist
Department Montana Public Service Commission
Address 1701 Prospect Avenue
Address 2 Vista Building
Place Helena, Montana
Zip/Postal Code 59620-2601
Phone (406) 444-6359
Phone 2 (406) 444-6199
Contact Name Kathi Montgomery
Department Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Division Energy Planning and Renewable Energy
Address 1100 North Last Chance Gulch
Address 2 PO Box 200902
Place Helena, Montana
Zip/Postal Code 59620
Phone (406) 841-5243
Fax (406) 841-5091

Authorities (Please contact the if there are any file problems.)

Authority 1: MCA 69-3-2001 et seq.
Date Enacted 4/2005

Authority 2: MONT. ADMIN. R. 38.5.8301
Date Effective 2006-06-02

Authority 3: SB 325
Date Effective 2013-04-28
Date Enacted 2013-04-28

Authority 4: SB 45
Date Effective 2013-10-31
Date Enacted 2013-04-30

  • Incentive and policy data are reviewed and approved by the N.C. Solar Center's DSIRE project staff.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1  "Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)"