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Environment & Science

Billings Reestablishes Commission on Energy and Conservation

Billings, Montana
Ali Eminov
View of Billings from Rimrock road

The city of Billings voted to revitalize a citizen-driven environmental group Monday night.

At a regular meeting, the City Council approved the Billings Commission on Energy and Conservation 10 - 1.

Several people spoke in favor during public comments, including Eric Schmidt, a member of the Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council Sustainability Committee, which is an affiliate of the non-profit advocacy group Northern Plains Resource Council.

Schmidt has been active in advocating for the commission as a benefit to city government.

He said one goal is to help the city save energy and money at the same time.

“Everytime that someone turns on their sprinkler to water their lawn, they use treated, potable water which they’re being charged for and the city has to develop infrastructure for, so watering less often could be an option,” said Schmidt. “Water purification and pumping across the city is one of our largest if not the largest energy user for the city.”

He explained the commission could bolster government processes by encouraging partnership and coordination between city departments like facilities and public works.

Meeting documents say the commission would advise the city council on policy, energy use practices, methods to reduce the money it spends on energy, and ways to minimize effects on the environment.

It’s the second time Billings has had a committee aimed at energy and conservation. The first was established in 2006 and wasn’t renewed before its sunset in 2010.

Correction 5/15: A previous version of this story misstated that the Billings City Council unanimously voted to create the Billings Commission on Energy and Conservation. The story has been updated to reflect that one council member, Reg Gibbs, voted against and 10 voted in favor.