Energy Incentive Programs, Montana

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Updated February 2015

What public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are available in my state?

Montana’s electricity restructuring law mandated the creation of a universal system benefit (USB) charge for the funding of energy efficiency, renewables and low-income energy assistance programs. The USB was extended indefinitely in 2009. In 2013, programs administered by Montana utilities budgeted over $10 million to promote increased energy efficiency in the state. Western Montana saw additional resources through the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC) regional organizations.

NorthWestern Energy offers a variety of energy efficiency programs and services relevant to federal customers. These programs are not available to large “choice” customers.

  • The E+ Business Partners program offers custom incentives for electric and natural gas energy conservation and load management in existing buildings;

  • The E+ Commercial New Construction program provides financial incentives for incorporating energy-efficient design and equipment into projects that require construction or building permits;

  • The E+ Commercial Natural Gas Savings program offers rebates for efficient measures such as furnaces, water heaters, stack heat exchangers, infrared fryers, boiler tune-ups, service hot water pipe insulations, and building insulation;

  • The E+ Commercial Lighting program provides rebates for installing energy-efficient lighting. Rebate amounts depend on the type of equipment installed;

  • The E+ Commercial Insulation program offers rebates to both electric and gas heating customers for air sealing, duct insulation and exterior wall insulation in existing facilities. New construction projects are not eligible;

  • The E+ Commercial Appliances program offsets the purchase cost of energy-efficient office equipment and software management systems for existing facilities and new construction projects;

  • The E+ Commercial Air Conditioning program offers rebates for qualified chillers, cooling towers and other air-conditioning equipment for existing facilities and new construction or major renovation projects;

  • The E+ Commercial Water Heating program provides financial incentives for efficient electric and gas water heating equipment, water saving measures and pipe insulation for both existing facilities and new construction;

  • The E+ Green Motor Rewind Instant Rebate program provides a$1/hp incentive for qualifying rewind work on NEMA rated motors of 15 through 5000 hp. Only motors rewound by qualified Green Motors Practice Group members qualify for rebates;

  • The E+ Irrigator Program and E+ Commercial VFD program provide financial incentives and technical assistance for the installation of variable frequency drives in existing irrigation pump systems and new construction projects;

  • The E+ Programmable Thermostat program for existing buildings provides incentives for the installation of qualifying programmable thermostats;

  • The E+ Energy Appraisal for Small Business program offers free assessments of lighting efficiency opportunities and energy use analysis to small non-residential customers that would likely not consider a full energy study under the Business Partners program.

Flathead Electric Co-op offers rebates to offset the costs of energy-efficient lighting in existing facilities and new construction projects.

Montana-Dakota Utilities Company offers a set of prescriptive incentives to both its electric and natural gas customers in Montana.

Smaller cooperatives in Montana such as Lower Yellowstone Cooperative, McCone Electric Cooperative, Southeast Electric Cooperative, and Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative offer various rebates to their customers for installing energy-efficient equipment in existing facilities and new construction projects.

What other utility energy efficiency programs are available to me?

Black Hills Power (BHP) offers prescriptive and custom rebates for energy-efficient electric equipment and measures, as well as technical assistance including energy management, rate savings analysis, and load monitoring. Prescriptive rebates cover specific efficient lighting equipment, motors, variable frequency drives, heat pumps and water heaters. Technologies that may be eligible for custom incentives include energy management and control systems, high-efficiency refrigeration equipment, geothermal heat pumps, industrial and agricultural process equipment and other measures not covered under the prescriptive rebates. 

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) offers several energy conservation programs relevant to federal customers:

  • BPA provides project analysis and development through the Energy Smart Federal Partnership. Federal facilities located in areas that are served by public utilities receiving power from BPA may be eligible for energy efficiency incentives from their local utility. In addition, a financing option is available to help federal agencies finance energy efficiency projects within the BPA-served territory. Interested federal agencies may contact their local utility representative or Allison Robbins of BPA at arrobbins@bpa.gov or 503-230-5871.  

  • BPA’s Implementation Manual updated semi-annually, provides utilities, program partners and regional stakeholders information on how to implement energy-saving projects. 

  • BPA’s Commercial and Industrial programs cover lighting and refrigeration, HVAC measures, envelope, plug load, and commercial equipment. Incentives for custom projects are also offered. More details are available through the utilities that purchase BPA power as well as from many of the Pacific Northwest’s lighting trade allies.

What load management/demand response options are available to me?

Montana-Dakota Utilities offers its Demand Response Resources Program for commercial and industrial customers who agree to curtail non-critical load during demand response events initiated by the utility. Participants receive capacity payments based on the amount of curtailment commitment (kW) and energy payments based on the amount of energy reduced (kWh) during curtailment events.

What distributed energy resource options are available to me?

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) website provides information on programs in Montana that offer incentives for renewable distributed generation. The following programs may of interest to federal customers:

  • NorthWestern Energy’s E+ Alternative Energy Options program is open to all NorthWestern customers, except those that are USB self-directing. Incentives of $0.50 per watt for solar PV ($25,000 maximum per customer), and $2 per watt for wind systems ($10,000 maximum per customer) are available through qualified installers. Applicants must submit a project proposal prior to the purchase or installation of a renewable system. Program is funded through the USB program and and off-grid installations are not eligible. Contract periods can be from one year to several years, depending on the negotiated contract.

  • The state government runs several programs that provide rebate and tax incentives for renewable energy, including biomass/ bio-fuels, solar, geothermal, and wind energy. Visit the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for information.

  • The Montana Department of Environmental Quality also offers the Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Program, which makes loans of up to $40,000 (subject to available funds), at a 2015 interest rate of 3.25%, for installation of alternative energy systems that generate energy for the borrower’s use. Net metering is allowed. Additional energy efficiency measures such as efficient windows, fixtures, appliances and insulation may also be funded through the program. Eligible systems may include fuel cells that do not require hydrocarbon fuel, geothermal systems, low emission wood or biomass, wind, photovoltaic and small hydropower plants (under 1 MW), and other recognized non-fossil forms of energy generation.

Are there energy efficiency programs sponsored by the state government?

Montana’s state government does not currently offer any energy efficiency programs to federal customers. For information on potential future opportunities, contact Energize Montana, a resource of the Department of Environmental Quality.

What additional opportunities are available to me?

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), the Lighting Design Lab, and the Northwest Energy Education Institute offer educational resources and training opportunities.

Federal customers whose utilities have area-wide contracts through GSA (e.g., Montana-Dakota Utilities), may be able to take advantage of 3rd-party financed energy efficiency projects called utility energy services contracts (UESCs). Information is available in GSA’s Energy Division Library. Federal facilities should contact their account executive to determine the level of each utility's participation.