Re-Powering the Flathead for a New Energy Economy Report Release Event

On Thursday, October 6, the Re-Powering the Flathead for a New Energy Economy project will host a report release event to celebrate the completion of a document that is the result of an almost three-year collaborative exploration and research process on energy opportunities and challenges in Flathead County.  The event will take place from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at Flathead Valley Community College in the Arts & Technology Building, Room 139, and is free and open to the public.

The report showcases numerous success stories of local businesses, local governments, and homeowners who have realized significant cost savings, greater energy independence, or even job and new business creation as a result of their involvement in emerging energy opportunities in the Flathead.

The evening presentation will include an overview of the report’s findings and its value as an extensive resource tool for realizing energy savings or in tapping into opportunities in the new energy economy. New energy “pioneers” in the Flathead, who are featured in the report’s local success section on success stories, will also be on hand to give brief updates on their projects and they will be available to visit with at the end of the program when light refreshments will be served.

Lauren Casey, author of the report, joined the Re-Powering the Flathead team in October 2010 as part of the Montana Energy Corps program.  Lauren grew up in Somers, Montana where she developed a passion for stewardship through a childhood spent almost entirely outdoors. She graduated in 2006 from Stanford University with a master’s degree in Engineering with an emphasis on energy and spent the next four years working as a consultant helping cities, utilities, and private sector clients implement renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. She joined the Energy Corps as an opportunity to bring some of her experience home to serve Montana, and also to learn about and promote strategies to help her community become healthier and more resilient.

Casey notes, “The primary goal of the Re-Powering report is to provide information to decision makers in the Flathead Valley about current and future opportunities in energy use, and to best position these decision makers to harness those opportunities as they arise. With abundant renewable energy sources, innovative technology, and outstanding entrepreneurship, the Flathead has an extraordinary opportunity to create a new direction for energy use and development in our region.”

The Re-Powering the Flathead Steering Committee, who supervised the research, design, and production of the report included Diane Yarus, Owner, Air Works; Paul McKenzie, Lands & Resources Manager, F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber; Ross Holter, Energy Services Supervisor, Flathead Electric Co-operative; Mayre Flowers, Executive Director, Citizens for a Better Flathead; Janet Morrow, Executive Producer, FUEL; Laura Damon, Green Team, Flathead Valley Community College;  and Michelle Tafoya, Clean Energy Consultant. The 116-page report also has benefited from input by a diverse group of dozens of stakeholders from the local community who came together to provide input to the report.

Key findings of the report include:

  • That there is a clear link between energy and the local economy;
  • There are many meaningful opportunities to improve upon the current picture of energy use in the Flathead;
  • Reducing energy costs for residents and businesses through conservation, efficiency and investing in local energy supply could create substantial benefits for the local economy;
  • Success stories demonstrate the potential for many diverse actions that can be taken to harness cost savings, energy independence, reliability, and other benefits;
  • The efforts highlighted in the success stories have just scratched the surface of the potential for better energy management opportunities in the Flathead;
  • Leadership is critical in identifying and acting upon opportunities.

The Re-Powering the Flathead report supports the conclusions above with research, data, resources, and reviews of best practices. The report also provides breakdowns of energy use in the Flathead by source and by sector; assessments of energy infrastructure, information, and regulations already in place; and opportunities for innovation, incentives and change. It also includes tables with web-based links to exciting and inspiring resources related to energy education, economic development, energy efficiency and conservation, grants and incentives, local energy resources, and tools such as energy savings and efficiency calculators for homes and businesses.

A limited number of hard copies of the report will be printed. Orders for copies are being taken for those who would like to have a hard copy. Call 756-8993 to reserve a copy.  An electronic version of the full report will be published after October 6th and accessible online via the Re-Powering the Flathead project website (www.repoweringtheflathead.org) and is a great way to review the many on-line resources that the report links to.

The report release event is free and open to the public. There will be an opportunity for Q&A after the presentations.

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