Montana Department of Environmental Quality About Us Permitting & Operator Assistance Public Participation

Energy

Permitting & Operator Assistance

More Information on SBEAP >>

The mission of the SBEAP is to assist Montana businesses in understanding and complying with environmental regulations and to go beyond the regulations to prevent pollution and improve environmental quality.

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) >>

You may apply for assistance at any time during the year by contacting the energy assistance LIEAP eligibility office  or tribal LIHEAP office serving your community. Click on "LIEAP eligibility office" to access phone numbers.  

If you cannot reach your local LIEAP eligibility office, call Montana's toll-free LIEAP number at 1-833-317-1080.

Energy Audits

A home energy audit is the first step to determine how much energy your home consumes, and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An audit will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time. During the audit, you can pinpoint where your house is losing energy. Audits also determine the efficiency of your home's heating and cooling systems. An audit may also show you ways to save on lighting costs, conserve hot water and reduce other electricity uses. You can perform a simple energy audit yourself, or have a professional energy auditor carry out a more thorough audit.

A professional auditor uses a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of a structure. Thorough audits often use equipment such as blower doors, which measure the extent of leaks in the building envelope, and infrared cameras, which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation.

Do-It-Yourself Energy Audit Resources

Utilities and Other Contacts

Many utility companies offer programs that promote energy efficiency. Energy efficiency, or conservation is like a new source of energy for utilities. Every unit of electricity or natural gas that is conserved is a unit of energy that does not have to be purchased. That is good for the utility as well as the consumer. Some utilities offer rebates for furnaces, boilers and programmable thermostats. Others may provide energy efficiency compact fluorescent light bulbs and technical assistance.

Wind Generation Facility Decommissioning and Bonding Information

House Bill 216 (HB216) passed the Legislature and was signed by the Governor in May 2017. The bill requires owners of wind generation facilities 25 megawatts and greater to submit decommissioning plans and bonds to the Department of Environmental Quality and requires DEQ to adopt rules prescribing:

  • The standards and procedures for the submission of reasonable bonds with good and sufficient surety by the owners of wind generation facilities
  • The collection of penalties;
  • Criteria and the process for releasing the bond;
  • DEQ's use of a bond in the event that the owner of a wind generation facility fails to decommission a wind generation facility;
  • Information required by DEQ to determine bond requirements, and;
  • Any additional requirements to ensure compliance with the bill
Resources for Wind Generation Facilities

Solar Facility Decommissioning and Bonding Information

Senate Bill 93 was approved by the 2019 Legislature and signed by the Governor in May 2019. The bill modifies MCA 75-26-301 to requires owners of solar facilities of 2 megawatts and greater to submit decommissioning plans and bonds to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and requires DEQ to adopt rules prescribing:

  • Standards and procedures for the submission of reasonable bonds with good and sufficient surety by the owners of solar facilities
  • Collection of penalties
  • Criteria and the process for releasing a bond
  • DEQ’s use of a bond in the event that the owner of a solar facility fails to decommission its facility
  • Information required by DEQ to determine bond requirements
  • Any additional requirements to ensure compliance with the bill
Resources for Solar Generation Facilities

Program Overview

The Montana Major Facility Siting Act (MFSA) provides for state agency review of certain facilities engaged in the generation, conversion, or distribution of energy. MFSA provides for comprehensive review of the siting and construction of such facilities, recognizing both the need to meet energy demands and the constitutional objective of maintaining a clean and healthful environment.

As outlined in 75-20-102, Montana Code Annotated (MCA), the purposes of MFSA, include:

  • ensuring the protection of the state's environmental resources;
  • ensuring the consideration of socioeconomic impacts;
  • providing citizens with an opportunity to participate in facility siting decisions; and
  • establishing a coordinated and efficient method for the processing of all authorizations required for regulated facilities.

Covered Facilities

Under MFSA, a certificate of compliance may be required from DEQ for certain types of energy-related projects, including:

  • Pipelines (except water pipelines) greater than 25 inches in inside diameter and 50 miles in length.
    • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has primacy over permitting of interstate natural gas pipelines. In the case of natural gas pipelines that meet the diameter and length requirements of MFSA, DEQ must file a state recommendation with FERC
  • Electric transmission lines with a design capacity of more than 69 kilovolts.
  • Facilities using geothermal resources to produce, or hydroelectric facilities capable of generating, at least 50 megawatts of power.
  • Associated facilities such as transportation links, pump stations and other facilities associated with the delivery of energy are also included.

A person who proposes to construct an energy-related project that is not defined as a facility under MFSA may petition DEQ to review the project under MFSA.

The following types of facilities are explicitly exempted from MFSA:

  • Electric transmission lines of a design capacity of 230 kilovolts or less and 10 miles or less in length.
  • Electric transmission lines or pipelines that would otherwise be covered, but for which the person planning to construct the line has obtained right-of-way agreements or options for a right-of-way from more than 75% of the owners who collectively own more than 75% of the property along the centerline.
  • Certain electric transmission lines that are collectively less than 150 miles in length and required under state or federal law for certain electrical generation or storage facilities to interconnect to a regional transmission grid or secure firm transmission service to use the grid.
  • Upgrades to existing transmission lines to increase capacity.
  • Energy storage facilities.
  • Transmission substations, switchyards, voltage support, or other control equipment.

The definition of a facility under MFSA does not include wind farms, solar farms, or natural gas or coal fired electrical generating units. 


Application & Review Requirements

An applicant for a certificate under MFSA must file an application with the DEQ. Facilities covered by MFSA are listed in 75-20-104, MCA. The application must include information concerning the need for the transmission line or pipeline, the proposed location, baseline data and reasonable alternate location. See 75-20-211, MCA, Circular 1 and Circular 2 for details.

MFSA statutes require certain timeframes for review and subsequent construction of an approved project, as follows:

  1. The DEQ must notify the applicant within 30 days that the application is either complete or incomplete. If the application is incomplete and the applicant corrects it for resubmission, the department then has 15 days to advise the applicant that the application is complete and accepted.
  2. The DEQ must issue a report describing alternatives and impacts within 9 months of the date of acceptance of a completed application.
  3. Within 30 days following issuance of the report, DEQ must approve a facility if certain findings are made. See 75-20-301, MCA for details.
  4. The certificate must include the requirement that construction of a linear facility be completed within 10 years following certification (five years for transmission lines 30 miles or less in length). Construction of a geothermal facility must be intitiated within 6 years of certification.

 Links to additional associated statutes and rules can be found by clicking the button below:

DEQ Laws & Regulations


Contact

Craig Jones, Senior MEPA/MFSA Coordinator
Physical Address: 1520 E 6th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601
Mailing Address: DEQ Major Facility Siting, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901
Phone: (406) 444-0514
Fax: (406) 444-1499
Email: crajones@mt.gov