Kenworthy Electric

Penny Per Watt
A conversation with Dan Kenworthy In November, MREA spoke with Dan Kenworthy, owner of Kenworthy Electric, about his family business and how MREA has weaved through his connection to the solar industry. How did you get into the solar industry here in Montana? I am a third-generation Montana electrician, following the footsteps of my father and grandfather, continuing to run the business since I bought it back in 1994. My first solar grid tie was actually with Henry Dykema, current President of the MREA Board of Directors. I worked on the grid tie for a solar system Henry installed on the Sheridan School as part of the “Solar for Schools” program. That got me pretty interested in solar installations. Then in 2002, a solar class came up in Butte that…
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Baker Light Industries

Penny Per Watt
A conversation with Wayne Baker [caption id="attachment_1059" align="alignright" width="225"] Wayne Baker, owner of Baker Light Industries in Alder, Montana[/caption] In October 2016, MREA talked with Wayne Baker, owner of Baker Light Industries in Alder, Montana, about his background and how all the different renewable energy technologies he works with complement one another. How did you get into renewable energy? I took a job out of college down in Colorado working for a company that did automation and instrumentation for dams and waterways. In 1994 I installed my first solar panel charging a battery to monitor the water level in a reservoir. We did several projects like that where we had to build little off-grid power systems. In 1999 I came back to Montana and took a job with a company…
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Independent Power Systems

Penny Per Watt
A conversation with Tony Boniface [caption id="attachment_1055" align="alignright" width="248"] Tony Boniface, Owner and President of Independent Power Systems[/caption] In July 2016 MREA talked with Tony Boniface, Owner and President of Independent Power Systems, about installing the first net metered system in Montana and how his small Bozeman business expanded to three states and several dozen employees. How did you get in to solar? I studied electrical engineering in college and worked at IBM after I graduated. It was a good job, but when I learned about solar in the late ‘80s, I knew it was what I wanted to do as a career. There wasn’t much literature on solar back then, or many training courses, but I learned about Solar Energy International and attended a two week training of theirs…
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Harvest Solar

Penny Per Watt
A conversation with Kyle MacVean [caption id="attachment_1052" align="alignright" width="300"] Kyle MacVean and Brad Van Wert, co-owners of Harvest Solar[/caption] MREA talked in May 2016 with Kyle MacVean, co-owner of Harvest Solar (with Brad Van Wert) about his surprising introduction to the solar business and what it’s like to be a solar installer in Montana. How did you get into the solar business? I got into solar eating pancakes at four o’clock in the morning in Rapelje, Montana, in the middle of a 24 hour bike race. Seriously. It was 2007, and at that diner in Rapelje I met a guy, Rob Carlson, who at the time was working for [Bozeman solar firm] Independent Power Systems. I had never given much thought to solar, but the way he described it I…
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Oasis Montana

Penny Per Watt
A conversation with Chris Daum [caption id="attachment_1048" align="alignright" width="300"] Chris Daum, owner of Oasis Montana[/caption] In April 2016, MREA talked with Chris Daum, owner of Oasis Montana, about her unique home office and long history in Montana‘s solar industry. You have a very unique home office. Can you tell me about it? The story goes back to 1980, when I first drove into the Bitterroot Valley on a road trip from Cincinnati with my then-husband. We never left. We bought 5 acres north of Stevensville and built an 8 by 8 foot tar paper shack. After several expansions over the years, my home office is now 1,400 square feet with 5.7 kilowatts of solar on the roof, plus a small wind turbine and more than 30 varieties of fruit trees.…
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Sundance Solar Systems

Penny Per Watt
A conversation with Henry Dykema [caption id="attachment_1043" align="alignright" width="300"] Henry Dykema, owner of Sundance Solar Systems[/caption] In April 2016, MREA talked with Henry Dykema, owner of Sundance Solar Systems, about how he’s seen Montana’s solar industry change over the past 25 years. How did you get into solar? It had always been an interest of mine. I grew up back East, and one of my neighbors was solar pioneer Jeffrey Fowler, author of “The Evolution of an Independent Home.” I ended up getting a master’s degree in wildlife biology, but took several solar courses on the side. When my wife Barbara and I decided to move to Montana in 1992, we jumped into solar with both feet. We built our own off-grid solar home in Luther (near Red Lodge), where…
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Onsite Energy

Penny Per Watt
A conversation with Orion Thornton [caption id="attachment_1038" align="alignright" width="300"] Orion Thornton and Conor Darby, owners of Onsite Energy[/caption]Orion Thornton, co-owner of Onsite Energy along with Conor Darby, talked to MREA in March 2016 about how he fulfilled his dream of building a career in solar in his home state of Montana. How did you get into the solar business? I grew up off the grid in Northwest Montana, which sparked my interest in alternative energy. In 2002, after taking a weeklong renewable energy workshop, I realized I could make a career of it. In 2006 I completed a two-year solar design and installation degree at San Juan College in New Mexico. After finishing the degree I came back to Montana to regroup, and was prepared to move out of state…
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