Author Archives: Becky Brandborg

Financing Solar – Missoula Federal Credit Union

Solar Panel Financing Missoula MontanaMissoula Federal Credit Union Offers Financing For Your Solar Electric System

Planning your solar electric system?  Thinking about financing? Missoula Federal Credit Union offers two loan options:  Solar Home Equity Loan or Home Energy Loan.

The Missoula Federal Credit Union is a
not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution, serving people who live, work, worship, or belong to
an association headquartered in Missoula, Lake, and Ravalli counties.  (Not a member?  No Problem. Becoming a member is easy, and is well integrated into the loan application process and can be done via mail, and need not include any financial services beyond the loan. Membership in the Montana Renewable Energy Association would qualify a
borrower for MFCU loans, making them available to the entire state.  Check out the Missoula Federal Credit Union Home Energy Loan Brochure.  Or Call (406) 523-3300.

Don’t forget:

Federal Tax Credits
Residential 30% Renewable Energy Credit (thru 2019)This tax credit is applicable for all primary and secondary private homes.  It includes all associated costs, such as installation and electrical work.

State (Montana) Tax Credits
Montana State provides a 500.00 per tax payer tax credit, or 1000.00 per couple for your solar installation. 

Small Business Owners Invest in Energy Independence with REAP Grants

Bitterroot Brewery solar electric systemDo you own a small business in Montana (outside the city limits of Missoula)? The USDA Rural Development, REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) offers up to 25% grants for total eligible project costs, as well as loan guarantees.  Partnered with the 30% federal tax credit your savings really add up.

This program helps increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements. Over time, these investments can also help lower the cost of energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers.

Application Deadline: 

  • Grants of $20,000 or less: October 31, 2017 and March 31, 2018;
  • Unrestricted Grants (up to $500,000): March 31, 2017;
  • Loan Guarantees are competed continuously throughout the year.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to invest in the long term health of your business with an investment in solar energy and energy savings.

Call Dan for a free solar consultation today 406-541-8410.

Solar Electricity and Net Metering

Grit-tie Net Metering Solar Electric Systems:  Many Montanans have solar arrays “net metered” into the grid, through Northwestern Energy or a local co-op.  Net metering customers receive a credit on their electricity bill for each kilowatt hour of electricity generated on-site and exported to the utility grid. Most net metering systems are wired to provide energy to the customer’s home or business before exporting any excess to utility lines. Most utilities carry forward bill credits from month to month, but never pay the utility customer anything for excess power. With NorthWestern Energy the “clock” resets annually.  In Montana, SBS Solar we recommend an April reset.  This allows for the consumers solar electric system to generate the maximum energy during our long solar summer days and consume the power during the shorter colder winter days.    

To help assess how large your solar system needs to be we start with your utility bill.  This allows us to calculate your average annual usage.  You can design a system to run up to 100% of your average annual loads. It is that easy.   Call today for your site assessment, load calculation and personalized solar electric quote.  406-541-8410

How Much Would Your Solar Electric System Cost?

NorthWestern Energy Utility Bill for solar electric system designSBS Solar designs custom solar electric systems with your lifestyle and budget as our primary focus.

One of the best ways to size a solar electric system is to look at your utility power bill. On the NorthWestern Energy bill* in the upper left hand corner there is a graph that tells you how much energy your home consumes on a monthly basis.  This information and a Google view of your site for orientation and shading, enable the SBS Solar team to design a system with your needs in mind.  A site visit is then scheduled to verify information .We then follow-up with a detailed proposal that will quantify your total costs and savings.

You can provide us with your utility bill a number of ways.  Click Here and upload your utility bill, Email us info@sbslink.com, fax 866-255-1303, or mail (620 Fish Hatchery Rd Hamilton MT 59840)

*Electric Coop power users will need to contact their co-op offices to request the last years worth of power usage.

Low Income Housing Receives Solar Grant

 

Council Groves 48kW Solar Electric System Received USB (Universal Service Benefit) Grant

The SBS Solar team recently installed a 48kW solar electric system for Council Groves Apartments in Missoula MT.  Currently Council Groves Apartments maintains 72 units of low-income Housing for approximately two hundred residents, close to half of which are children under the age of 18.

 

A portion of the funds for this project were provided by USB (Universal Service Benefits) funding in Montana. In 1997 the Montana legislature passed an electric deregulation law that included language establishing a Universal Systems Benefits (USB) fund.

What are the Electricity USB Programs?

  • Low Income (energy assistance and weatherization)
  • Cost-Effective Conservation + R & D
  • Market Transformation
  • Renewables + R & D

Under this program (with these guidelines the E+ Renewable Energy Program (NorthWestern Energy) provides custom incentives for projects that benefit organizations and communities for non-profit or government facilities.  Projects receiving these funds often provide civic value including education and visible representation of renewable energy technologies to a broad audience. Broad Benefit Commercial solar PV incentives are awarded twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.

If your non-profit is interested in assistance with the grant application call Dan today. 406-541-8410.

The next round of proposals is due by November 1. Proposal information is included in the Anywhere Library Example and the application requirements.  

The 5 criteria used  to rank proposals are as follows:

  1. Non Profit
  2. Geographic Location
  3. Participant Match ( at least 10%)
  4. Educational Value
  5. System Maintenance

 

Growing Your Solar Electric System.

Here is a system that was designed with growth in mind.

There are many considerations to take into account when you are designing a solar electric system.  And growth is one of the considerations.  Perhaps you design a system to suit your current electric usage, but then want to add an electric car into the mix.  So the question is can you add to a solar electric system.  The answer is a qualified yes.

Discuss you current and potential needs with your design consultant.  Design the system with a large enough inverter to handle future additional modules.  Perhaps you hope to add batteries in the future.  All of this is significantly easier if your start with the end system in mind.

Solar Electric Mounting Structure, Montana solar, solar Montana, Missoula Solar, Missoula renewable energy, solar, photovoltaics, solar installations, energy consultation, solar power, energy, energy electric contractor, energy generation, grid-tie

Solar panels require a tracking system to follow the angle of the sun Solar Myth #12 – Busted

Solar Electric Mounting Structure, Montana solar, solar Montana, Missoula Solar, Missoula renewable energy, solar, photovoltaics, solar installations, energy consultation, solar power, energy, energy electric contractor, energy generation, grid-tieSolar Myth #12  Solar panels require a tracking system to follow the angle of the sun

Fact: Though tracking mechanisms can provide efficiency gains for your solar electric system, they typically do not increase efficiency enough to justify the additional expense and maintenance of moving parts in residential situations.   Generally a shade free, fixed roof mount system is he cost most effective installation.

Fact: Solar panels work with light, not heat so it doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside.

Solar panels don’t work well in cold climates. Solar Myth #11 – Busted

Fact: Solar panels work with light, not heat so it doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside.

Fact: Solar panels work with light, not heat so it doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside.

Solar Myth # 11 Myth: Solar panels don’t work well in cold climates.

Fact: Solar panels work with light, not heat so it doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside. In fact, solar panels perform better in cooler temperatures than very hot temperatures.  Solar panels are built to withstand varying temperatures, and they can produce electricity from indirect light.

Generating Solar Electricity – Helena Montana

Beki Glyde Brandborg of Helena Montana hails from a long family history of conservation and environmentalism. The most recent step on her journey to make a difference in the world was to install a solar electric system that will produce 100% of her homes electric usage.  Through the years Brandborg has purchased Energy Star energy efficient appliances, burned firewood to heat her home (with electric backup), used the most efficient form of lighting available (currently LED) and updated the insulation on her 1970s style home.

Her newly minted 5.85 kW solar electric system sports 18 – SolarWorld 325 watt modules and a 7600 SolarEdge inverter (ready for battery).  Beki knows that the job of caring for the planet and its people is never finished, but for the time being she knows that the energy that her home consumes is generated by the sun.

Solar Pioneer Continues Roof Top Revolution

Solar Pioneer Continues Rooftop Revolution
Russ Lawrence joined the decentralized power revolution years ago with his home in the mountains outside of Hamilton. When he decided to move to town he knew he wanted to maintain his energy independent lifestyle.

Russ is an efficient user of electricity, so using average annual estimates of utility usage (he has not yet been in the home a full year) SBS Solar sized the system to provide 100% of Russ’ annual electric needs.  He is anticipating excess production and plans to convert from his efficient natural gas furnace to an air source heat pump.

One of his first FaceBook posts of his new system included his NorthWestern Energy net-meter running in reverse.

Feed energy back to the grid with NorthWestern Energy Net-Meter.

Feed energy back to the grid with NorthWestern Energy Net-Meter.