Protecting Common Sense Installation Design at the PSC

Protecting Common Sense Installation Design at the PSC

Industry & Technical, Policy & Advocacy
Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (“SGIP”) are the technical documents used by the utility and by solar, wind, and other energy developers to guide how energy systems are interconnected to the utility grid. They cover everything from the application forms and paperwork that need to be filed, all the way down to the safety standards for the equipment used. It covers net metering customers, but also larger systems. Recently, the Montana Public Service Commission opened a docket related to these guiding documents that addressed the nuanced but important definition of a "premises", which impacts how renewable energy systems could be designed. MREA weighed in on this docket to ensure the definition does not restrict common sense installations. Read MREA's Full Comments on the Premises Definition How is premises defined in statute,…
Read More
Takeaways from the 2019 National Solar Jobs Census (Part 2)

Takeaways from the 2019 National Solar Jobs Census (Part 2)

Industry & Technical
It's become an annual tradition here at MREA to celebrate the release of The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census report, which was released earlier this year. Read on for MREA's analysis of the 2019 Census! This is Part 2 of a 2 part series. Part 1 focused on National Trends. Part 2 focuses on specific takeaways for Montana. Quick Look: Montana Industry Metrics 2019 Solar Jobs: 308 Solar businesses: 42 Year to Year % Growth in Solar Jobs: 12.7% 2019 Solar Jobs Rank by State: 49 2019 Solar Jobs per Capita Rank by State: 43 2019 Solar Companies Rank by State: 42 [caption id="attachment_2723" align="aligncenter" width="427"] Source: The Solar Foundation[/caption] The State of Solar in Montana Montana's solar industry continued its multi-year trend of growth, showing an increase of…
Read More
Takeaways from the 2019 National Solar Jobs Census (Part 1)

Takeaways from the 2019 National Solar Jobs Census (Part 1)

Industry & Technical
It's become an annual tradition here at MREA to celebrate the release of The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census report, which came out just this week. How do we celebrate? We top off our coffee, read through the Report, and do a happy dance celebrating the growth solar is seeing around the country. Read on for MREA's analysis of the 2019 Census! This is Part 1 of a 2 part series. Part 1 focuses on national trends from the Census. Part 2, which will be published after The Solar Foundation releases their state-specific data in March, will focus on takeaways and trends specifically for Montana.  15 Facts from the National Solar Jobs Census 1. Solar is a national industry: though market sizes vary considerably, the solar industry has a presence…
Read More
Interconnection Docket closes, more to come

Interconnection Docket closes, more to come

Industry & Technical, Policy & Advocacy
Note: This is not NWE's proposal to change their net metering program rates. MREA has a separate webpage with updates on the rate case.  In August, MREA concluded its work on a regulatory docket which updated Northwestern Energy's interconnection agreements and procedures for small generators (including net metered systems). Interconnection procedures are the technical requirements and documents that are used when a generating system (like solar or wind) wants to connect to the grid. It includes everything from detailing the safety and technical standards required for the equipment, to the application forms you need to fill out and file with the utility. These are important issues, directly affecting how installers may design systems and how they plan their workflow with their customers. MREA saw this as a critical docket to…
Read More
2018 National Jobs Census Highlights

2018 National Jobs Census Highlights

Education and Information, Industry & Technical
In its 9th annual National Solar Jobs Census, The Solar Foundation presents a year in review for the solar industry, highlighting trends in workforce numbers, demographics, wage and salaries, and key factors affecting the industry. The Solar Foundation's website has a copy of the full report, as well as a summary infographic of key facts and figures. Below are some of the key highlights and takeaways from the report. Short term loss, long-term growth for solar jobs Nationally, solar jobs are down by 3.2% from 2017. This is due in large part to two factors. The first is the effects of the Section 201 tariffs placed on solar modules and cells causing uncertainty for utility-scale developers, where the tariffs hit the hardest. Utility-scale projects – which account for large job numbers –…
Read More
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…
Read More

What do these solar tariffs mean?

Education and Information, Industry & Technical, Policy & Advocacy
Last week the President ordered 30% tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. These tariffs are nothing short of artificial price increases, leaving many in Montana to wonder how this will affect their ability to purchase solar. This will be a surmountable, albeit frustrating, speed bump on the road towards energy independence. ​The decision, touted as a way to bolster american manufacturing and create jobs, is projected instead to cost the american solar industry 23,000 jobs. Most of these will be in installation, which makes up the majority of the solar industry. In Montana, installation makes up approximately 80% of the solar industry. These are small businesses, hiring a local workforce, and providing well paying jobs. Already, the uncertainty over the tariffs has caused businesses to curtail expansion. The tariffs…
Read More

Solar Tariffs threaten Montana’s Solar Industry

Industry & Technical, Policy & Advocacy
In May, two foreign-owned U.S. solar manufacturers (Suniva and SolarWorld) filed a “Section 201” request with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) to place tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. The petition claimed that imported solar cells and modules were harming the domestic manufacturing industry. The USITC took up the petition and began looking into whether or not these imported cells and modules were indeed doing harm. On September 22nd, the USITC ruled that an increased volume of solar imports did injure domestic solar manufacturing. This is significant because a confirmation of injury to the market requires the USITC to then make remedy recommendations to the President who will decide what, if any, remedies to enact. The original tariffs requested by the domestic manufacturers could double the cost of…
Read More