Montana Public Service Commissioner Brad Johnson’s column (June 25) reveals his outdated understanding of the electricity grid of the future. Renewables such as wind and solar, though frequently providing intermittent power, can provide affordable and reliable power when dominating a smart grid.

Large, inflexible and climate-hostile coal power plants that used to provide a constant output of electricity (baseload) are detrimental to this state’s electricity future and cost-prohibitive. Rather than providing flexibility and reliability, as Johnson notes, coal power plants choke further deployment of renewable electricity and the build-out of a future electricity grid that can handle multiple flexible sources.

Pushing for renewable and in-state cost-competitive electricity solutions is not due to “out-of-state and foreign interests” but is a core interest of Montanans who rely on an affordable and climate friendly electricity now and in the future.

Montana does not face an energy shortage as Johnson states, but actually exports half of the electricity it produces to other states. This is a direct result of the large, inflexible coal power plants that co-dominate Montana's power grid besides hydro, which proves the point that "baseload" is not the issue at stake.

Thomas Buchholz,


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