Cattle Ranch Installs First Solar Array in Mid-Yellowstone Electric Co-op

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Noelle and Richard Pinkerton are proud owners of the first net metered solar array in the Mid-Yellowstone Electric Cooperative. Their 10 kilowatt solar system generates power for the barn, office, and outbuildings at their cattle ranch near Hysham, Montana.

The Pinkertons were motivated to install solar by the prospect of lowering their power bills. John Palm, owner of Bozeman Green Build, who installed the Pinkertons’ solar array, points out that at 12.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, Mid-Yellowstone Electric’s rates are relatively high by Montana standards. This makes solar a particularly attractive investment. According to John’s projections, the Pinkertons will see a nine year payback on their solar investment and will benefit from an additional $55,000 in averted energy costs over the life of the system.

Noelle Pinkerton reports that while their solar array was the first to be installed on Mid-Yellowstone Electric Co-op’s lines, “The co-op was very receptive and willing to work with us.”

View from the roof: the solar array and part of the ranch.
John Palm adds, “The Co-op managers and linesmen have been excited to learn about solar PV and this project provided that opportunity. As first adopters, the Pinkertons’ system has garnered a lot of attention. Due to the system’s exceptionally visible location, many neighbors of the owners have stopped to inquire and are eagerly awaiting the Pinkertons’ report on the system’s performance.”

Noelle confirms that her neighbors are interested. “A lot of people are like, ‘What do you have on your roof?’ And once they hear about it, they say, ‘We’re going to see how this works for you, and then we’re looking into it [for ourselves].’”

Quick Stats

  • Capacity (kW): 10
  • Owner: Richard and Noelle Pinkerton
  • Location: Hysham, Montana
  • Incentives: USDA REAP grant, federal tax credit
  • Installer: Bozeman Green Build
  • Equipment Used: (30) Q-CELLS 325 Watt modules, Fronius Primo 10.0 inverter, Unirac SolarMount Flush racking
  • Utility Service Territory: Mid-Yellowstone Electric Cooperative