Montana Clean Energy Fair

Thank you!

Thank you so much to all of our supporters, sponsors, attendees and volunteers for making the 2017 Clean Energy Fair a great one! We had a great turnout, and a lot of positive feedback. We’re already planning the 2018 Fair, and we hope to see you again! For now, enjoy a few photos from the Fair below.

~ Chris Borton, Fair Coordinator & Andrew Valainis, Executive Director

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Please join the Montana Renewable Energy Association for our 7th Annual Montana Clean Energy Fair on Saturday, September 16, 2017 from 9-4 at Pioneer Park (adjacent to the public library) in Helena. We are thrilled to be holding the Montana Clean Energy Fair in Helena for a second year.

The fair will include workshops on solar, wind, alternative fuel vehicles, energy efficiency, and other clean energy technologies; exhibits by clean energy businesses; and an electric car show. Plus there will be food vendors and kids’ activities including a bouncy castle, solar ovens, and model solar car races. We are also partnering with the Helena Sun Run, a 5K run and 1 mile walk that starts at 9 am at Anchor Park (next to Pioneer Park) on the day of the fair, with proceeds supporting a solar array at Carroll College. You can register for the Sun Run online.

facebook RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends!

Quick links: Sponsors  |  Workshop Schedule  |  Kids Activities Schedule | Battery Based Inverter Training  | Sponsor and Vendor information

Clean and Green Level Sponsors


Gold Level Sponsors


Silver Level Sponsors



Bronze Level Sponsors







Battery Based Inverter Training Workshop – Friday, Sept. 15th

Join MREA on Friday, September 15th (the day before the Fair) for a Battery Based Inverter Training Workshop! MREA is excited to be partnering with Outback Power Systems to offer a training focused on their battery based inverter technology. The workshop will address balance of system components, web based monitoring, and their new grid-tied three-phase inverter product. >> Find out more and register <<

Fair Workshop Schedule

10:00 – 10:45 am: Solar Electricity Basics (Library)
Travis Jordan, Jordan Solar
Think solar is expensive? When’s the last time you checked? Solar photovoltaic costs have dropped dramatically over the last 5 years, and there’s never been a better time to produce your own power from the sun. Learn the ins and outs from industry veteran Travis Jordan.

10:00 – 10:45 am: Large-Scale Solar and Wind (Neighborhood Center)
Jeff Fox, Renewable Northwest and Amy Berg Pickett, Cypress Creek Renewables
Montana has tremendous wind and solar resources, and in the past decade more than a dozen wind farms have been built across the state. Recently, large scale solar arrays have made their way to Montana. What’s next for large-scale wind and solar development?

11:00 – 11:45 am: Creating a Visible Public Solar Demonstration Project (Library)
John Finn, Lewis & Clark Library Director, Shiloh Hernandez, Sleeping Giant Citizens Council/Helena Vigilante Runners, and John Palm, Bozeman Green Build
Join this panel discussion about the inspiration and the steps involved in turning the roof of the Lewis & Clark Library into a public education and demonstration project for solar energy. The panelists will talk about how the 50kW system came to fruition; the hurdles including delays in permits and hazardous weather; the benefits including reduced energy costs, carbon savings, and public education opportunities.

11:00 – 11:45 am: Renewable Energy Policy (Neighborhood Center)
Brian Fadie, MEIC Clean Energy Program Director/MREA Policy Committee Chair, and Henry Dykema, Sundance Solar Systems/MREA President
The 2017 Legislature saw bills addressing net metering, renewable energy incentives and tax credits, and more. In the coming months, the Public Service Commission will be overseeing a cost-benefit analysis of net metering (e.g. rooftop solar and small wind). Meanwhile, Montana prepares for the 2018 mid-term elections. Join this session to hear what’s happening now and what’s on the horizon for state policies.

12:00 – 12:45 pm: Electric Vehicles Show-and-Tell (Library)
Kyla Maki, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and electric vehicle owners
Get the low-down on electric cars and what they have to offer you. This workshop starts with an overview of the technology and ends with a show and tell from car owners. This electric car show is truly a unique event for Montanans!

12:00 – 12:45 pm: Selecting a Solar Contractor (Neighborhood Center)
Ben Brouwer, Montana Department of Environmental Quality
This session is a must for anyone considering solar for their home or business. Ben Brouwer from Montana Department of Environmental Quality will explain how to find a solar contractor, what to look out for in a solar bid, and how to get the array that best fits your needs.

1:00 – 1:45 pm: Batteries and Energy Storage (Library)
Dan Brandborg, SBS Solar
Join Dan for a discussion covering on grid residential battery systems and their integration with solar systems. Dan will discuss the new Lithium batteries available from Tesla and LG Chem and how energy storage is poised to change the electric power industry as we know it.

1:00 – 1:45 pm: Financing and Incentives (Neighborhood Center)
Ben Brouwer, Montana Department of Environmental Quality; Andres Haladay, City of Helena; and Paul Herendeen, Missoula Federal Credit Union
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there are incentives, tax credits, low interest loans, and other programs that can help you finance your renewable energy project. Find out which incentives will work for you, and see how your investment will net returns.

2:00 – 2:45 pm: Efficient Water Heating Options for Home and Business (Library)
Todd Hoitsma, Liquid Solar Systems
Water heating uses up to a third of a building’s energy demand. With lower cost solar PV and new innovative water heaters, there are many ways to improve on the standard inefficient water heating systems. In this session Todd Hoitsma of Liquid Solar will review water heating technologies and compare tank vs tankless, electric vs. gas, heat pump water heaters, and solar thermal vs solar PV to help determine what makes most sense in your home or business.

2:00 – 2:45 pm: Renewable Energy and Building Energy Efficiency (Neighborhood Center)
Jerrod Bley, Montana State University and Montana Weatherization Training Center
Conserving energy and using it more efficiently are surefire ways to cut your utility bills. Join Jerrod Bley to learn about on-site production, low-tech and hi-tech energy efficiency options, and strategize ways to save.

2:30 – 3:00 pm – Citizen Advocacy Training (Montana Conservation Voters booth)
This year, the fair will feature a Citizen Advocacy Training workshop, facilitated by Montana Conservation Voters. The training is designed to prepare citizens to engage in advocacy in different venues, including earned media, lobbying, and engagement with decision makers in key venues like the Montana Legislature. The training will discuss the different options available for engagement, and will focus on best practices, messaging, and presentation. Topics of discussion will focus on energy related issues.

3:00 – 3:30 pm: Community Solar (Library)
Garrett Martin, Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Montana utilities, including rural electric Co-ops, are starting to explore community solar projects which allow individuals to buy into a single solar electric system. Hear from Garrett Martin about the development of community solar and DEQ’s investigation of community solar in Montana.

3:00 – 3:30 pm: Off-Grid Living (Neighborhood Center)
Henry Dykema, Sundance Solar Systems
Trying to power an RV, cabin or a remote home? Or just wanting to be more self-sufficient? Learn the basics of off-grid technologies, such as battery storage and load management, and hear first-hand what it takes to cut the power cord.

3:45 pm – **Raffle Drawing for Grand Prize! (MREA Booth, Center Sidewalk)
Enter at the MREA booth throughout the day for the chance to win some great raffle prizes. Must be present for the drawing at 3:30 pm to win.

Kids Activities Schedule

All-Day Activities (9 am to 4 pm)

  • Bouncy Castle
  • Face Painting
  • Coloring and Drawing Station

11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Solar Cooking (recommended for ages 6 and up)
Build your very own pizza box solar oven and cook up some treats!

12:00 – 1:00 pm: Recycled Art Projects (recommended for ages 6 and up)
Create works of art from commonly used household items!

1:00 – 3:00 pm: Model Solar Car Assembly and Racing (recommended for ages 8 and up)
Build a model solar racing car from kits provided by MREA. Races will be ongoing as models are completed, with awards for all racers! Parents have the opportunity to purchase the cars kits for $15 each.

Sponsors, Exhibitors, Food Vendors, and Car-show participants

The 2017 Sponsorship Packet for sponsors, exhibitors, food vendors, and car-show participants is now available. Download the Sponsors and Exhibitor Form here. Sponsors and exhibitors can pay by check (see form for instructions) or online, using the online payment page.

More information on volunteer, workshops, and speakers coming soon. Please continue to check back for more updates, and don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook!

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Click here to see photos of past Clean Energy Fairs.