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ASES National Solar Tour in Montana, Oct. 2-3

ASES National Solar Tour in Montana, Oct. 2-3

Announcements, Education and Information, Special Programs
Join a local Montana event! The annual National Solar Tour - organized by the American Solar Energy Society - is coming up this weekend! Touring a local installation is an opportunity for community members to see the technology, ask questions, and understand how solar is benefiting the lives and businesses of their neighbors. This is a great way to support the development of solar in Montana. We hope you can attend one of these Montana based events! Click on the links below to see the location, times, and featured technologies (like solar, storage, heat pumps, and more). Virtual events will 'launch' on October 2nd and be available throughout the weekend. MONTANA NATIONAL SOLAR TOUR EVENTS​​ Saturday, October 2 10a - 3p (Whitefish): Mountain Solar Home – Learn More* 9a -…
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MREA Gives Back: Whitehall Net-Zero Energy Affordable Housing Project

MREA Gives Back: Whitehall Net-Zero Energy Affordable Housing Project

Education and Information, Special Programs
December 2020 marked the 20th anniversary of MREA's founding. Two decades ago, a small group of renewable energy installers, advocates, and supporters formalized what would grow into the education and advocacy organization that we are today. We are grateful for the immense support from our communities and combined efforts driving the development of renewable energy in Montana! In continuing our mission of expanding renewables to all Montana citizens, MREA is celebrating our 20th year by 'giving back' and supporting clean energy projects that impact the lives of our broader communities. While we can't grant funds ourselves, our goal is to bolster partner projects by raising awareness, funneling financial support, and highlighting the socio-economic benefits of such projects. We hope you will consider supporting these projects to help make them a…
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MREA Gives Back: Habitat for Humanity Workforce Housing Solar

MREA Gives Back: Habitat for Humanity Workforce Housing Solar

Education and Information, Special Programs
December 2020 marked the 20th anniversary of MREA's founding. Two decades ago, a small group of renewable energy installers, advocates, and supporters formalized what would grow into the education and advocacy organization that we are today. We are grateful for the immense support from our communities and combined efforts driving the development of renewable energy in Montana! In continuing our mission of expanding renewables to all Montana citizens, MREA is celebrating our 20th year by 'giving back' and supporting clean energy projects that impact the lives of our broader communities. While we can't grant funds ourselves, our goal is to bolster partner projects by raising awareness, funneling financial support, and highlighting the socio-economic benefits of such projects. We hope you will consider supporting these projects to help make them a…
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67th Montana Legislature: Post-Session Review

67th Montana Legislature: Post-Session Review

Policy & Advocacy
This Legislative Session was challenging, to say the least. The pace and intensity was unlike any in recent memory, and opposition to renewable energy development continued to be deeply entrenched. Rooftop solar and small-scale renewables emerged from the session mostly intact, but not without their share of losses. One of those losses is the Alternative Energy Systems Tax Credit. In the early days of the session we worked on a bipartisan interim committee bill (HB17, Rep. Hamilton) to help lower- and moderate-income Montanans more easily access solar and wind by making the tax credit fully refundable. That concept didn’t gain traction and the bill died, but the credit itself survived – until SB399 (Sen. Hertz) was introduced. SB399 hand-picked winners and losers among tax credits. The targeted losers included rooftop…
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Utility Hijacks Rooftop Solar Bill, Attacks Solar Professionals

Utility Hijacks Rooftop Solar Bill, Attacks Solar Professionals

Policy & Advocacy
April 29, Update: HB448 was tabled in a Select Conference Committee meeting. MREA engineered a last-ditch effort to try and preserve the good parts of the bill, but that effort narrowly failed. The bill was then tabled, meaning it is dead. This is ultimately a great victory! The hijacked version would have been terrible for solar in Montana - for solar owners and consumers, as well as for our state's solar professionals. We are both thrilled and relieved that we were able to stop the bad version from moving forward. Thank you to all those who helped and supported us during this bill's long and tumultuous journey this session!  Northwestern Energy is continuing its pattern of attacking rooftop solar customers and the businesses installing these systems. Their recent hijacking of…
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67th Montana Legislature: Mid-Session Review

67th Montana Legislature: Mid-Session Review

Policy & Advocacy
After a relatively slow start to the first few weeks of the 67th Legislative Session, the last few weeks of February were a whirlwind as legislators worked to get bills introduced and heard in committees before the Transmittal Deadline on March 3rd. Other than revenue bills (and a few other exceptions), bills that are not voted out of committee and across to the other chamber before the Transmittal Deadline die and are not allowed to move forward. Discussions on energy issues, in particular, ramped up over the last few weeks. Below we share some of our insights from inside the hallways of the Capitol, where our executive director has been working hard to defend Montana's renewable energy policies. The biggest story for MREA in the first half of the session was House Bill…
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Anti-Solar Bill Will Effectively Destroy Industry, Cost Montana Jobs

Anti-Solar Bill Will Effectively Destroy Industry, Cost Montana Jobs

Policy & Advocacy
Update 2/19: Huge Win for Rooftop Solar! On Friday, Feb. 19th in the House Energy Committee, Rep. Brewster withdrew HB359 before it even had its hearing. Thank you to all of the Montanans who signed up to oppose the bill, submitted comments, and made phone calls. There were more than a thousand comments submitted in opposition to the bill! This loud and vocal opposition helped earn this huge victory for rooftop solar. Onward! House Bill 359 being introduced by Rep. Brewster (R, Billings) will effectively destroy Montana’s solar industry and cost the state hundreds of well-paying jobs provided by local businesses across the state. The issue at hand is net metering, which is a billing mechanism that allows Montanans who invested in rooftop solar and small wind systems to get credits…
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67th Montana Legislative Session: Preview and Getting Involved

67th Montana Legislative Session: Preview and Getting Involved

Policy & Advocacy
This legislative session will be unlike any we have participated in recently. The makeup of the Legislature and Governor's Office has shifted, and COVID has created a new paradigm for public involvement. There's a lot of uncertainty about how the session will play out. Despite this uncertainty, MREA's advocacy will continue to be driven by our community's priorities and goals. MREA has always, and will always, advocate to: protect and defend the right of Montanans to produce their own energy, promote fair and affordable access to small-scale renewable energy, and oppose policies that attack renewable energy development that will harm consumers and our local, Montana-based industry. The Session has already started, and many of the more than 3,000 draft bills that we have sorted through still do not have language or…
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Federal ITC Extended for 2 Years

Federal ITC Extended for 2 Years

Education and Information, Industry & Technical, Policy & Advocacy
Some great energy-related news coming out of Congress! The spending bill – which was signed into law just yesterday – includes a two-year extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) at the current 26%, rather than decreasing yet again at the end of this year. The ITC has spurred huge amounts of private investment in renewable energy. This is a big win for renewables! The tax credit was originally 30% of the total installed system cost. The ITC was due to step down in 2021 to 22%. This was part of a planned phase out of the credit, which was negotiated several years ago when the credit was extended. Eventually, the residential ITC will expire (in 2024) and the commercial ITC will remain at 10% (as of 2024). It's important…
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Solar Powered, Off-grid EV Charging

Solar Powered, Off-grid EV Charging

Education and Information, Industry & Technical, Other Technologies, System Profiles
This post was written by Christopher Borton, Co-founder and Director of the Sage Mountain Center and MREA Board Member. Chris recently made an exciting upgrade to the Center that promises to be part of the quickly evolving market of electric vehicles.  [caption id="attachment_3211" align="aligncenter" width="640"] EV charging at off-grid Level 2 charging station[/caption] The electric heater in my office is humming while outside it is 20 degrees F and our 2017 Chevy Volt is charging up from the solar electric panels on our site. In the 30 years we have operated Sage Mountain Center – our off-grid home and retreat center – we have always known there was a missing link in our sustainable lifestyle: clean transportation. We have organic and permaculture gardens, straw bale and cordwood buildings, solar heated…
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