Henry Dykema, President
Henry Dykema owns Sundance Solar Systems, a renewable energy business specializing in the design, sale, and installation of photovoltaic and wind energy systems. He has lived off the grid since 1992 and started Sundance Solar Systems in 1994. He has BS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana, Missoula and an MS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Massachusettes, Amherst. He is a NABCEP certified renewable energy provider specializing in all aspects of the field. Henry has been involved with MREA since its beginning and has served on the board since 2010.
Orion Thornton, Vice President
Orion Thornton has been involved in the renewable energy industry for over ten years and currently owns and operates Onsite Energy, a solar electric design and installation firm based out of Bozeman, MT. In 2006 Orion earned an A.A.S. degree in Photovoltaic Installation and Design from San Juan College, followed by NABCEP Certification as a Solar PV Installation Professional in 2008. As a contract instructor with Solar Energy International (SEI), Orion teaches students from all over the world the basics of grid-tied and battery-based solar electric systems. Orion is a Montana native who grew up off-the grid and currently resides in a net-zero energy home, powered by solar electricity, solar hot water, and wood heat.
Dave Ryan, Secretary
David Ryan is a licensed mechanical engineer in Montana. He is a founding member of MREA and has served the organization as president and as secretary. Dave has been involved with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, programs and policy for over 22 years. Dave has been involved with renewable electric generation projects from less than one kilowatt in capacity to 135 megawatts capacity. He has performed hundreds of energy audits, saving millions of kilowatt-hours of energy. Dave has worked for the Montana Power Company and the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and currently offers energy consulting services.
Patrick Judge, Treasurer
Pat Judge has advocated for clean energy policies in Montana since 1996. Most of that time was spent working for the Montana Environmental Information Center, as lobbyist and energy program director. He served on the Governor’s Climate Change Advisory Committee and the Helena Climate Change Task Force, and continues to serve on NorthWestern Energy’s USB Renewable Energy Advisory Committee and the Helena Citizen Conservation Board. In 2000, he completed his master’s thesis on Montana’s misguided experiment with electric utility deregulation. Currently, he is employed as a physics instructor at Carroll College.
Susan Bilo has been an MREA member since 2010 and serves on the Education & Outreach and Policy Committees. She has hosted and coordinated MREA’s annual Clean Energy Fair workshops and installer trainings.
She is passionate about renewable energy and has worked to advance energy efficiency and solar energy for a state energy office, a U.S. Department of Energy regional office, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Montana State University. She currently advocates for energy and water conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicles, and net zero energy buildings through her consulting business Green Compass Sustainability. She believes it is critical we design and build net zero energy or net zero energy-ready buildings and neighborhoods to proactively address climate change mitigation and adaptation simultaneously.
Susan walks her talk and made her home as energy and water efficient as possible, then installed a 3.6 kilowatt net-metered photovoltaic system that provides all her home’s electricity plus extra for an all-electric vehicle. She serves on the City of Bozeman’s Climate Partners Working Group and the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Cities Electric Vehicle Working Group and is a member of the American Solar Energy Society and the International Living Future Institute.
Chris is the director and co-founder of Sage Mountain Center, an off-grid, sustainably designed educational facility located in Whitehall, Montana. Sage Mountain Center’s mission is to promote personal and environmental awareness. For the last fifteen years Sage Mountain Center has provided consultation services, seminars and tours in everything from straw bale home building and cordwood construction to solar and wind power for thousands of students, homeowners, and businesses across the state. Chris’ avocations include playing drums for the Butte Symphony Orchestra and various jazz ensembles and competing nationally as a freestyle figure skater.
Brian Fadie is the Clean Energy Program Director at the Montana Environmental Information Center based in Helena. He has advocated for clean energy and energy efficiency policies at the local, state, and federal level, including lobbying the state legislature and working with state regulatory agencies. Brian completed his master’s degree in environmental policy from the University of Michigan where he focused on clean energy policy and project siting. He has previously advocated for clean energy development in both Washington D.C. and Nevada.
Jeff L. Fox
Jeff is a native Montanan, wilderness lover, elk hunter, and backcountry skier deeply committed to clean energy solutions for Montana and the nation. He works as the Montana Policy Manager for Renewable Northwest Project, an organization dedicated to promoting the expansion of environmentally responsible renewable energy resources in the Northwest. He is experienced in advocating for renewable energy in regulatory proceedings, transmission planning venues, and state policy making. Jeff’s background includes working as a wilderness ranger in Colorado and Wyoming before moving to Washington, DC, to join The Wilderness Society where he worked on energy issues. He returned to Montana in 2007 to assist in the Montana Legacy Project, a successful $520 million dollar conservation purchase of 320,000 acres of private timber lands threatened by development and fragmentation.
Brad Van Wert
Together with his business partner Kyle MacVean, Brad founded Harvest Solar in 2012. A full service Solar Electrical contractor, Harvest believes that if you take the time to answer questions and help people understand how solar can fit in their lives, we can grow this incredible industry here in Montana.
Brad brings years of experience and a wealth of knowledge to the Harvest Solar team. While he is experienced working in every step of the process, he is most passionate about working one-on-one with clients and explaining how solar is a good fit for them.
Throughout each of the past three Montana legislative sessions Brad has taken an active interest in helping move forward responsible policy that is good for the industry in this state. During the 2017 legislative session he took on the persona of ‘Solar Guy’ to help spread the word to Montanans from around the state and rally their support. This campaign showed him first hand just how excited the citizens of Montana are about renewable energy.
Whether Brad is wiring panels on a roof; advocating for responsible legislation and public policy; or outside playing in the mountains, he is proud to say that he wakes up every day going to work for the sun.