New Solar Array Lights Up Capital High School

New Solar Array Lights Up Capital High School

Ever since Tom Pedersen, a science teacher at Capital High School, had solar panels installed on his home in 2010, he’s been thinking about how great it would be to put solar on the school. “I believe in teaching stewardship to my students,” says Tom, and “we have a great flat roof on the gym that [I realized] could be a power plant for the school.” When the school gym was slated for a new roof in 2014, the timing was right. Tom worked with Jack Isbell, owner of Solar Montana in Helena, to secure funding from NorthWestern Energy’s Universal…
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Bozeman Couple Saves on Propane with Solar Water Heating

Bozeman Couple Saves on Propane with Solar Water Heating

Karen and Jan Foust of Bozeman have always had an interest in solar energy. Their water heater runs off propane, and the thought of using free energy from the sun to reduce their propane use always appealed to them. Last year, the Fousts got in touch with Todd Hoitsma, owner of Liquid Solar Systems of Bozeman. After considering their needs, Todd recommended a 35,000 BTU solar hot water collector coupled with a 60 gallon solar storage tank. This system would provide about 10,000 gallons of hot water per year, which would be expected to meet about 70% of the Fousts’…
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Net Metering at the Legislature: Half-time Report

Over the past few weeks, MREA’s priority legislation to make renewable energy more accessible and affordable to Montana consumers has been killed by the Montana Legislature. Hundreds of Montana businesses and individuals contacted their legislators, urging them to vote for MREA’s priority bills, but the outpouring of support wasn’t enough to overcome the powerful influence of utility lobbyists in Helena. HB 192, sponsored by Rep. Art Wittich (R-Bozeman), was heard on January 19th, with an impressive turnout of fifteen businesses, consumers and organizations lining up in support of raising the cap from 50 kilowatts, an amount decided in 1999 when…
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Three Forks Pole Mounted Solar Array Supports Montana Manufacturing

Three Forks Pole Mounted Solar Array Supports Montana Manufacturing

When Leandra Hill of Three Forks, Montana, decided to install a solar energy system on her property – a former dairy farm –  she discovered that her rooftop was just not viable for solar.  To maximize solar output, a south-facing roof aspect is important, but all of her south-facing roof space was shaded by large trees.  Luckily, she learned, there was an alternative: a pole-mounted solar array. Ms. Hill’s recently-completed 15 kilowatt pole-mounted solar array is expected to provide 100% of the annual electricity use of the two houses and shop building on the property.  And the system doesn’t just…
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MREA’s 2015 Policy Priorities: Defend and Expand Opportunities for Distributed Renewable Energy

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

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

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…
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Solar-Squared for Low-Income Housing Complex in Havre

Solar-Squared for Low-Income Housing Complex in Havre

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,…
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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

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

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

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…
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MREA Safety Statement

The Montana Renewable Energy Association is dedicated to expanding the use of renewable energy across the state of Montana. Greater adoption of renewable energy technologies by the public requires a well-trained workforce; without trained individuals using best practices in the field to produce code-compliant installations, renewable energy systems are bound to perform poorly and/or become a hazard to the property and its occupants. Of equal importance is the need for this workforce to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety regulations for the construction industry. Non-compliance with OSHA safety standards on the jobsite can result in business-ending…
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