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

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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 sharing more about who you’ll have the opportunity to meet and engage with when you join us on August 11th!

This series is produced by Mason Dow, MREA's Communications Intern

Part 3: Energy Experts and Professionals

The Fair will feature twelve workshops, scheduled throughout the day, facilitated by experts in clean energy technologies, policies, and practices. Experts have years of education and experience in their respective fields and will be facilitating interactive presentations in which attendees can ask questions and deepen their understanding of key concepts and issues facing renewable energy development in Montana. Want to know the latest on battery storage technology? What’s going on with net metering policy? How can you integrate an electric vehicle into your home solar system? The experts presenting at the Fair will have answers to these questions, and more! Below we introduce you to just a few of the many experts who will be presenting at this year’s Fair.

 Natalie Meyer – Sustainability Manager, City of Bozeman

Communities around Montana are taking important and large steps in energy conservation and greenhouse gas emissions tracking and reduction. As the Sustainability Manager for the City of Bozeman, Natalie Meyer does that, and much more! Natalie is responsible for guiding the implementation of Bozeman's Climate Action Plans to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions. She works on a variety of issues and technologies within the city, such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, alternative fuels, greenhouse gas emissions tracking, and policies and planning to advance sustainability and resiliency. Bozeman is tackling their first climate resiliency strategy to help the city better prepare and recover from climate related disruptions. This includes planning for temperature and precipitation changes that may result in extreme weather and wildfire. Viewing energy efficiency and distributed renewable energy from the lens of city resiliency is an important and exciting step for the Bozeman community.

At the Fair, Natalie will be joining a panel on community-scale renewable energy. She will be sharing the story of the city-university-utility partnership behind the Bozeman Solar Project, which is a 385kW solar array located at the City Water Reclamation Facility. She is also looking forward to sharing next steps towards building a community solar project with NorthWestern Energy. Natalie is thrilled that the Fair will be in Bozeman for the next two years, and is looking forward to the electric vehicle show, model solar car races, and the workshops on battery storage and large-scale solar projects.

Ben Brouwer – Energy Resource Professional, Montana Department of Environmental Quality

If you are coming to the Clean Energy fair this August with questions about what it might take to become one of the rapidly growing number of home-solar owners here in Montana, then there are few better people to take advice from then Ben Brouwer. Ben is an Energy Resource Professional who has worked for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for several years and has advised homeowners and businesses in the financing and purchasing of renewable energy resources. Ben himself is a solar owner and has personally gone through the process of budgeting models and choosing the right installer to equip his home with a clean energy unit.

Ben will be hosting a workshop breaking down the various incentives and financing options that homeowners can utilize to make their clean energy dreams a reality, including navigating the various grant and loan programs that can help ease the burden of cost on prospective solar owners. Ben will be able to answer questions about the economic feasibility of adding solar to your home, as well as offer tips for deciding which array types, sizes, and which installers will be the best fit for first-time purchasers. Ben has presented this workshop at the Clean Energy fair each of the last few years and has found that more and more Montanans are expressing interest in adding a solar unit to their home or business. The growing demand for solar, coupled with technological improvements that have driven costs down have proven to be a great opportunity for Ben to share his wealth of knowledge and experience in the renewable energy field to help consumers and curious individuals alike learn more about the potential for solar energy.

Paul Herendeen – Director of Impact Market Development, Missoula Federal Credit Union

There is a pragmatic question which stands out to most prospective solar owners: how can I pay for this? If this is a query that has crossed your mind when thinking about the multitude of benefits that being a solar owner brings, then attending Paul Herendeen’s workshop is for you.

Paul’s background is in environmental studies and he now works for Missoula Federal Credit Union administering the Home and Solar Energy Loan Program. Paul has literally “written the book” on financing residential solar, producing a helpful guidebook which walks buyers through the many ins and outs of financing solar (available on the MFCU website). This year’s Clean Energy Fair will mark the third year that Paul is participating in the “Finance and Incentives” workshop, which will provide an opportunity for fairgoers to learn about how to make the dollars and cents make sense for everyday Montanans. The complicated math and wide number of variables make purchasing home solar an intricate and daunting process, and Paul wants attendees to understand the broad financial implications for when solar is a good investment, and the variety of financing options that buyers have before them. Paul has spent years researching these questions and is excited to share his accumulated knowledge with inquisitive minds in Bozeman this summer.

We hope you enjoyed our series, and we hope to see you at the Fair! You can RSVP for the Fair on Facebook and be sure to invite your friends! Don't forget to go back and read Part 1: Advocates and Part 2: Industry Leaders.

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