Imagine driving through the stunning Montana countryside and seeing the landscape dotted with solar panels, weatherized homes, and electric heating systems. That vision of a fair and self-sufficient clean energy future is much closer with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022.
Electric co-ops across the country received a massive boost when Congress passed the IRA. The IRA specifically targets electric co-ops for bold renewable energy improvements. However, Montana co-ops often have limited capacity to research the new opportunities available to them, so they will need members’ voices to guide them towards a brighter future.
The Act contains several specific benefits for electric coops. First, co-ops are now eligible for an investment tax credit for building renewable energy generation with a baseline of 30% and potential for as much as a 70% credit! That means that co-ops will receive federal funds for at least 30% of the project cost when building facilities like solar installations.
Second, Congress appropriated $9.7 billion toward construction costs for co-ops to build renewable energy generation. This is not a tax credit, this money goes directly to project construction, covering 25% of project costs, in the form of grants. However, it can be added to the investment tax credit, giving co-ops multiple financial incentives to expand renewable energy. Combined with the decreasing costs of devices like solar panels, a cooperative clean energy future is closer than ever.
Undoubtedly, the biggest barrier to Montana co-ops accessing the money is education. Cooperative members all over the state will have to help their boards and staff recognize and understand the exciting opportunities on their doorsteps. Let’s get started!