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MREA establishes ground-breaking alliance with OSHA

MREA establishes ground-breaking alliance with OSHA

Industry & Technical, Safety & Training
[caption id="attachment_1877" align="alignright" width="375"] MREA President Henry Dykema (left) and OSHA Area Director Art Hazen (right) signing the Alliance agreement documents[/caption] The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has two programs that proactively engage contractors working in industries across the country. One is the Cooperative Partnership program, and the other is the Alliance program. The Montana Renewable Energy Association (MREA) was the first renewable energy group in the country to join OSHA’s partnership program. We worked together with OSHA to identify hazards specific to the renewable energy industry, discuss what trainings would be useful to the industry, and how industry members could provide input to OSHA. In return, OSHA worked to share informational resources with the industry, including training and education opportunities. MREA has now transitioned…
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Reflections from the Unknown Energy Battleground Tour

Reflections from the Unknown Energy Battleground Tour

Policy & Advocacy
The following is a guest blog post by Caitlin Piserchia, Conservation Fellow with Forward Montana.  The Montana Public Service Commission, a quasi-judicial regulatory body seemingly tucked away in a drafty building in Helena, has an almost unbearably boring name but a incredibly large influence over Montana’s energy future. In early October, MREA and Forward Montana partnered on a statewide tour to bring the Public Service Commission and their responsibilities into the public eye. After two weeks on the road as part of the Unknown Energy Battleground Tour, I came away with three major lessons: the Public Service Commission makes incredibly consequential decisions on a regular basis, they are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to renewable energy development in Montana, and many Montanans don’t know how to influence their…
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Understanding the Public Service Commission: Part 3

Understanding the Public Service Commission: Part 3

Policy & Advocacy
In Part 1 of this series, we gave an overview of the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC), including a brief history and a description of key elements of its role and structure. In Part 2, we focused on the PSC’s role in energy-related issues, and specifically on three important electricity related responsibilities: creating customer classes and setting rates; overseeing long-term planning processes; and setting contract terms for Qualifying Facilities. This third and final installment of this series will focus on how to engage with the PSC. We also discuss PSC rulemaking and contested case processes, using the cost-benefit study on distributed generation as an example. Involvement at the Public Service Commission There are a number of ways of engaging with the PSC, and the method and number of opportunities to…
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Who You'll Meet at the Fair, Part 3: Energy Experts and Professionals

Who You'll Meet at the Fair, Part 3: Energy Experts and Professionals

Special Programs
The 8th Annual Montana Renewable Energy Fair is coming to Bozeman. From 9am to 4pm on Saturday, August 11th, individuals from around the state will meet in Bozeman to rally under a common banner of supporting renewable energy and learning more about its various benefits for Montanans. Taking place at the Gallatin Country Fairgrounds (901 N. Black Ave.), visitors will get the chance to experience a variety of workshops, exhibits and activities all centered around clean energy. The fair will include: demonstrations of solar, wind, and energy efficiency technologies and concepts; an electric car show; activities for kids; and, of course, food vendors. Fairgoers will have the opportunity to meet professionals in the clean energy field, industry members and experts, and conservation and energy advocates. In this series, we’ll be…
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Lithium Battery Technology for Home and Business – presented by Blue Planet Energy

Safety & Training
Join us on Friday, August 10th for an industry designed training for installers working with solar + storage systems, presented by Kyle Bolger, Vice President of Engineering with Blue Planet Energy. This one-day workshop will explore the emerging technology of lithium based energy storage systems for homes and businesses, with an emphasis on off-grid applications. The research, development, and implementation of lithium based energy storage systems for homes and businesses is transitioning into a mature and readily available market, with incredible potential to change the traditional design of solar PV systems. Some of the topics for this workshop will include differences in various lithium battery technologies, expected life cycles, warranty periods, cost considerations, and general design parameters. *Space is limited to 25 participants >> Click here to register << Details…
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Who You'll Meet at the Fair, Part 2: Industry Leaders

Who You'll Meet at the Fair, Part 2: Industry Leaders

Special Programs
The 8th Annual Montana Renewable Energy Fair is coming to Bozeman. From 9am to 4pm on Saturday, August 11th, individuals from around the state will meet in Bozeman to rally under a common banner of supporting renewable energy and learning more about its various benefits for Montanans. Taking place at the Gallatin Country Fairgrounds (901 N. Black Ave.), visitors will get the chance to experience a variety of workshops, exhibits and activities all centered around clean energy. The fair will include: demonstrations of solar, wind, and energy efficiency technologies and concepts; an electric car show; activities for kids; and, of course, food vendors. Fairgoers will have the opportunity to meet professionals in the clean energy field, industry members and experts, and conservation and energy advocates. In this series, we’ll be…
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Who You'll Meet at the Fair, Part 1: Advocates

Who You'll Meet at the Fair, Part 1: Advocates

Special Programs
The 8th Annual Montana Renewable Energy Fair is coming to Bozeman. From 9am to 4pm on Saturday, August 11th, individuals from around the state will meet in Bozeman to rally under a common banner of supporting renewable energy and learning more about its various benefits for Montanans. Taking place at the Gallatin Country Fairgrounds (901 N. Black Ave.), visitors will get the chance to experience a variety of workshops, exhibits and activities all centered around clean energy. The fair will include: demonstrations of solar, wind, and energy efficiency technologies and concepts; an electric car show; activities for kids; and, of course, food vendors. Fairgoers will have the opportunity to meet professionals in the clean energy field, industry members and experts, and conservation and energy advocates. In this series, we’ll be…
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Benefit-Cost Study of Distributed Generation Leaves Questions Unanswered

Benefit-Cost Study of Distributed Generation Leaves Questions Unanswered

Policy & Advocacy
In April, the cost-benefit analysis of distributed generation (i.e. rooftop solar) initiated by House Bill 219 was submitted by NorthWestern Energy to the Public Service Commission. The report is now public and is required to be included in the next electric rate case, which is expected to begin in September. Staff at MREA have reviewed the study. First, no work papers, data spreadsheets, or any other supporting materials were included with the report. This makes it incredibly difficult to verify the report’s claims. This lack of transparency is concerning, especially considering the ultimate goal of this report was to bring clarity to questions on rooftop solar, not create further confusion or suspicion. Without the ability to verify the claims made in the study, they cannot be taken as fact. Second,…
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Missoula Electric Cooperative offers members renewable energy through Community Solar Project

Missoula Electric Cooperative offers members renewable energy through Community Solar Project

Community Scale, Rooftop Solar
Missoula Electric Cooperative offers members renewable energy through Community Solar Project The Missoula Electric Cooperative (“MEC”) is a member-owned electric provider that services rural customers in the county of Missoula. In August of 2016, MEC completed installation of their second shared solar array, located on the rooftop of the Frenchtown elementary school. A shared solar array, commonly referred to as a “solar garden,” is a large array of solar photovoltaic panels with several key characteristics: the project is usually owned and operated by an energy provider; they are large, single installations; and they are offered in portions to multiple “subscribers” who can lease or purchase one or multiple panels in the array. This allows the customer to reap the benefits of the solar energy system, even though it’s not located…
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Understanding the Public Service Commission: Part 2

Understanding the Public Service Commission: Part 2

Policy & Advocacy
In Part 1 of this series, we gave an overview of the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC), including a brief history and a description of key elements of its role and structure. In Part 2, we focus on the PSC’s role in energy related issues, and specifically on three important electricity related responsibilities: creating customer classes and setting rates; overseeing long-term planning processes; and setting contract terms for Qualifying Facilities. Creating Customer Classes and Setting Rates The PSC is charged with creating customer classes for investor owned utilities, and setting the electricity rates (i.e. prices) for those classes. Since utility customers use electricity and the grid differently, they may be grouped into different classes so they can be charged differently. Per Montana law, “Classifications may take into account the quantity…
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