Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed a bill Friday granting tax incentives to the energy industry, a flagship proposal aimed at attracting “clean and green” energy to Montana.
The measure is among bills that cleared the Legislature’s special session, which ended May 15.
Schweitzer said the measure will attract new business to Montana, such as wind power generators and transmission lines to carry the electricity around Montana or out of the state. He said the development will lead to more jobs.
The tax breaks will boost plans to build a transmission line from north-central Montana to Alberta, Schweitzer said.
Other projects, such as expensive coal gasification plants that can take years to build, may be enticed with the tax breaks and end up in Montana rather than another state, Schweitzer said.
“We have several companies who have expressed an interest in building in Montana,” the governor said.
The bill received wide support in the Legislature. About two-thirds of the lawmakers in each chamber backed the legislation.
Some critics said the measure unfairly left traditional oil, gas and coal development out of the mix. Others said the plan came to the Legislature late in the regular lawmaking session and was hurried through without proper vetting.
The measure has tax breaks for bio-diesel, solar power and manufacturing plants that build such equipment, plus incentives for carbon dioxide sequestration and other cutting-edge energy sources.
“This is a comprehensive approach to energy development in Montana,” Schweitzer said. “We’ve covered all our bases here _ generation, transmission and carbon sequestration to name a few.”
By Matt Gouras
Associated Press Writer
25 May 2007
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