City Desk

MT Clean Energy Fair this weekend as climate fears heat up


Big Sky Connection

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Eric Tegethoff

August 8, 2019

BOZEMAN, Montana - The 9th annual Montana Clean Energy Fair takes place in Bozeman this Saturday. 

The event features workshops on topics such as smart solar shopping, energy efficiency in the home and an electric vehicle show-and-tell. 

It also includes panels on renewable energy policies and large-scale wind and solar development for utilities. 

David Merrill, senior organizing representative at the Missoula field office of the Sierra Club, says the fair comes at the right time because climate change is on people's minds. He says interest is the highest he's seen in his two decades of work on the climate issue.

"The last year has been just remarkable in terms of people's engagement with the issue, their willingness to get involved with our work and also, frankly, their extreme anxiety and even dread of the rapidly growing threat of climate change," he points out.

The Sierra Club will have a booth at the fair, alongside clean energy businesses. There also are activities for children, including a solar cooking class and model solar car racing. 

The fair starts at 9 a.m. at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds. It's organized by the Montana Renewable Energy Association.

Merrill says the technological advancements on display at the clean energy fair are a sign the country is moving in the right direction.

"As a longtime climate activist myself, that's one of the chief ways that I maintain my own morale facing this grave climate threat is by looking at the tremendous progress we've made with renewable energy and energy efficiency," he states.

Merrill says the utility company NorthWestern Energy has stood in the way of the fight against climate change. But he sees progress, such as in June when the mayor of Helena delivered a letter to NorthWestern calling on the company to move away from coal and other fossil fuels. 

Merrill also notes the city of Missoula's decision in April to rely 100% on clean electricity by 2030 - the first city in Montana to make this commitment.


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