MISSOULA, Mont. — Missoula County commissioners set a target of carbon neutrality for county operations by 2035. They adopted the resolution Thursday after a public hearing.
Diana Maneta, energy conservation and sustainability coordinator, said the goal they want to achieve is to have all county buildings and vehicles running on clean energy. They developed a climate action team that will figure out the details on how to reach the goal and how much it costs. That team is getting started right away.
“This resolution kind of comes in two parts. The first part commits us to doing the work. The second part establishes a committee to figure it out. The third part that’s not in here, but will come later, is our will to actually get the work done, which means spending money, making sacrifices,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick at the hearing.
Furthermore, next month, the county is also expected to set a target of 100 percent clean electricity for the entire urban community. That will be a joint resolution signed along with the city of Missoula. The goal for that is 2030.
Having 100 percent clean electricity is just one part of carbon neutrality.
Right now, the operations report says Missoula uses about 60 percent clean electricity, most of it from NorthWestern Energy.
According to NWE, approximately 60 percent of the electricity it sells to its customers is generated by wind, water and solar, with the remaining 40 percent powered by a combination of coal and natural gas.
Missoula Electric Cooperative provides 5 percent of the Missoula community’s electricity load. MEC’s current portfolio consists primarily of hydroelectricity, and they report that their portfolio is about 95 percent carbon-free.
Maneta says, since there is no way to choose which electricity Missoula uses from the grid, the plan is to build new clean energy sources that offset the 40 percent of electricity the city uses from carbon sources. Possible options would be buying into renewable energy that’s in locations more climate friendly for wind and solar farms or possibly working with NWE to develop a green tariff.