Financial Assistance for Geothermal Projects

The State of Montana has a long history in developing geothermal energy. A state geothermal program began in 1977 as a joint project between the Montana Department of Natural Resource and Conservation (DNRC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This DNRC program included engineering assistance and legislative advocacy; this program expired in the 1980s.

 

Project Information

The current Montana Geothermal Project includes a variety of outreach activities to increase state and regional awareness of the economic opportunities for geothermal development. Outreach activities started in 2006 include a geothermal working group, presentations to regional and national energy groups and support of statewide project development efforts. Sage Resources is also helping Ennis Hot Springs, Bozeman and Baker, Montana apply for state and national funding for geothermal projects. Expanding private development with initial public investment is a vital component of geothermal energy development in Montana. The Montana Geothermal Working Group meets periodically to address development issues. Additional working group information is available from Kathi Montgomery.

 

Project Financing

Sage Resources is working with several groups in Montana to locate and solicit funding for initial geothermal resource assessments and engineering/design of development projects. These funds include partial grants for resource assessments, project design, and cost-benefit analysis.

There are numerous sources for investment credits, project development grants, and loans for new project development. The following list is a good starting point for researching options for financing geothermal projects.

 

USDA Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements: Grants and Loans

For Fiscal Year 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service had $11.385 million in competitive grant funds and $176.5 million in guaranteed loan funds available to purchase renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements for agriculture producers and rural small businesses in eligible rural areas. For renewable energy systems, the minimum grant request is $2,500 and the maximum is $500,000. The maximum amount of a guaranteed loan made to a borrower is $10 million.

USDA continues to conduct competitive grant solicitations. Guaranteed loans are awarded on a continuous basis.

For Montana Contact:
USDA Rural
2229 Boot Hill Court
Bozeman, MT 59715, (406) 585–2540.

 

NorthWestern Energy:

One of Northwestern Energy’s Universal Systems Benefit (USB) goals is to encourage the development of renewable energy resources projects that use environmentally friendly — or "green" — technology to generate electricity. USB funding provides incentives for solar, wind or geothermal projects.

Projects funded in the past ranged from researching wind energy opportunities in Montana to installing solar heating equipment at customers' homes or businesses. Almost all of the funded projects also included public education or demonstration sites to create awareness about the opportunities and benefits of renewable energy installations.

 

Tax Credits:

At the local and state levels, promotional activities vary from state to state and may include tax incentives, grants, loans, rebates, industrial recruitment, utility green pricing programs, education and assistance programs, demonstration projects, research and outreach centers, public benefits funds and renewable portfolio standards.

For specific information on what state and Federal incentives are available in Montana see Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE).

 

Montana Department of Agriculture:

The Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) program and the Montana Agriculture Development Council were established by the Montana Legislature to strengthen and diversify Montana's agricultural industry through private-public partnerships that assist in the development of new agricultural products and processes. Investments are offered in three forms: investments with deferred repayment, investments without repayment, and seed capital loans. GTA is administered by the Agriculture Development Council and attached to the Montana Department of Agriculture. The Council is comprised of seven members, five of whom are actively engaged in agriculture, plus the directors of the Montana Department of Agriculture and the Montana Department of Commerce. A request for proposals under the Growth Through Agriculture program is issued quarterly. Proposals for funding are accepted from public and private organizations, business and industry, educational institutions, local governments and individuals. Application deadlines are January 31, April 30, July 31 and October 31 of each year.

GTA Program Manager
Montana Department of Agriculture
P.O. Box 200201
Helena, Montana 59620-0201
(406) 444-2402 phone
(406) 444-9442 fax
agr@mt.gov