Brian Schweitzer

Brian Schweitzer served two terms as governor and today is chairman of the Stillwater Mining Company.

For the Gazette

Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has a new book on an upcoming energy revolution he says will free consumers from power companies, oil wars and earn them some money.

The book, “Power Up Energy: How the Coming Revolution Will Empower You, Free Us From Oil Wars and Make You a Buck or Two,” debuted for download on Amazon last month.

Schweitzer asserts that the evolution of batteries, particularly batteries in electric cars, will not only change the way people get around, but also how they power their homes and even give them a chance to sell unused electricity.

It’s a book mostly about pointing consumers toward energy independence, but also about pointing a few fingers at Big Oil, elected officials, lobbyists, and even anti-fracking and anti-pipeline environmentalists.

In an interview, Schweitzer said he realized that batteries were a game-changer 10 years ago while driving an all-electric Tesla automobile in California.

“The battery I was sitting on had 250 miles of stored energy. That’s a three-day supply for an American home,” Schweitzer said. “Why, this isn’t just a car. Why not sell what you don’t need. It’s not the car, it’s the batteries, stupid.”

Consumers able to store power in their cars can power their home with solar panels in the day and car battery by night. They can sell unused power to their local utilities through net metering.

The transition means less dependence on oil from the Middle East, which means less reason to fight wars in oil exporting countries, Schweitzer said.

But the argument against foreign oil is just the former governor’s opening salvo. Schweitzer argues for more development of natural gas and vehicles fueled by it. He supports fracking and challenges environmentalist criticisms of the practice, as well as opposition to pipelines.

These are familiar arguments for Schweitzer, who as governor spoke out against “petro-dictators” on the stage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention and advocated for the Keystone XL pipeline against the desires of green Democrats.

Schweitzer also introduced biofuel cars to the state motor pool, advocated for the development of biodiesel from the oilseed crop camelina and also promoted liquid fuel from coal.

None of those developments were fully realized in Schweitzer’s two terms as governor, during which he also landed Montana an $86 million signing bonus for coal development rights in the Otter Creek area.

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