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MREA Gives Back: Habitat for Humanity Workforce Housing Solar

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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 reality.

Habitat for Humanity Workforce Housing Solar Arrays

The Red Lodge Area Community Foundation’s Workforce Housing Steering Committee partnered with Altana Federal Credit Union, Helena Area Habitat for Humanity, USDA Rural Development, and Trust Montana to build quality, energy efficient, and affordable single-family homes with roof top solar installations for family’s living and working in the Red Lodge area.

Completing this project will result in 3.9kW rooftop photovoltaic, grid-tied solar systems installed on three low-income single-family homes. Owner-Built Workforce Housing program participants will benefit from the reduced energy costs, while increasing the family's energy independence and resiliency to fluctuating electricity rates. (Low-income is defined as at or below 80% of the Area Median Income or "AMI"). 

Amount of funding needed
They have most recently secured a 1:1 matching donor up to $6,000 to help meet their $12,000 goal. If they end up receiving more than the current goal, additional funds will go towards solarizing the 2021 - 2022 cycle of three additional Owner-Built homes.

Project Beneficiaries
Initially, the project will benefit three families with household income at or below 80% AMI. Trust Montana will hold the land under the homes in perpetuity to ensure the homes remain affordable to all subsequent buyers. The land trust's stewardship of the properties, combined with deed restrictions put in place by Helena Area Habitat for Humanity, ensure that if and when the current homeowners decide to move these homes are affordable to the next buyers. Therefore, the solar panels will continue to benefit low-income households into the future.

Additional Information
Thanks to a partnership with the Beartooth Electric Co-op, a fourth home is being constructed to create a model high efficiency all-electric home. Beartooth Electric committed $23,900 to this project to remove electric baseboard heat and showcase a high efficiency HVAC System and controls (Mitsubishi split mini-heat pump), 3.9 kW net-metered solar array and LED lighting/controls. Next Spring, Beartooth Electric hopes to host open houses to point out the energy features of the model home. Energy and cost saving data from the 3 families that built their own homes with Red Lodge Area Community Foundation and Helena Area Habitat for Humanity will also be incorporated into these open houses with Beartooth Electric. Sharing this data could inspire and encourage other folks to install solar systems, especially ones whose household income is below 80% AMI.

Getting Involved and Supporting the Project
Please contact Robin Adams, Workforce Housing Coordinator if you would like to assist in getting this project to completion:

Office: (406) 446-2820 / Direct: (406) 426-1983, robin@rlacf.org
Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 Hauser S Ave, Red Lodge, MT 59068
rlacf.org/housing/