MREA’s 2015 Policy Priorities: Defend and Expand Opportunities for Distributed Renewable Energy

Policy & Advocacy
Net Metering: Fair Credit for Clean Energy Broadly distributed around Montana are more than 1,000 solar arrays, small wind turbines and micro hydro projects that provide power to homes, businesses, schools, farms and ranches. When the wind is blowing or the sun is shining and these generators produce more energy than the owner is using, the extra electrons flow onto the power grid and are sold by the utility to neighboring customers. Montana law guarantees that renewable energy system owners get full credit on their power bill for each kilowatt-hour of clean energy they provide to the utility. That’s fair. Let’s keep it that way. Why are Utilities Putting up Barriers to Rooftop Solar? Renewable energy is helping Montana families and businesses take charge of their energy costs like never…
Read More
Solar “Just Made Sense” for Bitter Root Brewery in Hamilton

Solar “Just Made Sense” for Bitter Root Brewery in Hamilton

Rooftop Solar
According to Jason Goeltz, general manager of Bitter Root Brewery in Hamilton, Montana, the decision to install a 10 kilowatt solar array on the roof last spring was a natural reflection of the brewery's commitment to sustainability – and a prudent financial move as well. "Sustainability is a significant driving motivator for many of our business decisions," explains Goeltz. With sustainability in mind, the brewery has recently cut back on packaging of its 22 ounce glass bottles and is transitioning to aluminum cans. They will soon be installing an electric vehicle charging station onsite. Given the abundance of sunshine in the Bitterroot Valley, the solar array "just made sense," says Goeltz. The economics of solar didn’t hurt, either. The solar array helps to shield the brewery from rising energy costs, and…
Read More
Solar-Squared for Low-Income Housing Complex in Havre

Solar-Squared for Low-Income Housing Complex in Havre

Rooftop Solar
Residents of the low-income Hill View Apartments in Havre, Montana will soon be enjoying double the benefits of solar energy: solar photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors will work side-by-side to produce electricity and hot water for the 52-unit complex. The new solar arrays are part of a complete renovation of the complex with an eye toward energy efficiency, including added insulation and new windows and boilers. The project also features construction of a new, energy-efficient community building, which includes meeting rooms, laundry facilities, and a Head Start school and playground. The project was developed by MT Preservation HV LLLP, a partnership which includes HomeWORD, a nonprofit developer of affordable and sustainable housing headquartered in Missoula, and GMD Development of Seattle. Hill View is one of five low-income housing complexes…
Read More
Emerson Center for Arts and Culture Cuts Power Bills with New Solar Array

Emerson Center for Arts and Culture Cuts Power Bills with New Solar Array

Rooftop Solar
The Emerson Center for Arts and Culture, a nonprofit community arts center housed in a 96-year-old former elementary school in Bozeman, now boasts a very modern element on its roof: a 30 kilowatt solar array, the largest in the Bozeman city limits. The solar array is net metered, meaning that when it produces more clean energy than the building needs, the excess flows onto the electric grid and the Emerson Center receives a credit on its power bill. Those bill savings are fed directly back into the Emerson Center’s programs: it houses art galleries, event spaces, and a large theater, and hosts scores of classes, workshops, events and performances each year. The Emerson Center’s new solar array was funded by longtime Emerson Center supporter and renewable energy advocate Tim Crawford. Bozeman…
Read More
Billings Public Library solar array: "A gamble with no losing side"

Billings Public Library solar array: "A gamble with no losing side"

Community Scale, Rooftop Solar
The brand-new Billings Public Library, which opened in January 2014, features on its roof a 30 kilowatt solar photovoltaic array installed by MREA member business Bozeman Green Build. The solar array is net metered, meaning that when the solar panels produce more electricity than is needed in the building at any given moment, the excess power flows out onto the grid and the city receives a credit on its power bill for the library. The array was funded in part by a Universal Systems Benefit grant from NorthWestern Energy. The solar array was incorporated into the new library building with the intent of achieving LEED Gold certification. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building certification program worldwide. The solar array…
Read More