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 an annual basis. This information and quick view of your site (orientation and shading) enable the SBS Solar team to design a system with your needs in mind.
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.
- 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 5 criteria used to rank proposals are as follows:
- Non Profit
- Geographic Location
- Participant Match ( at least 10%)
- Educational Value
- System Maintenance
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.
Selway the SBS Solar Dog was reading the Darby Community Public Library’s web site.
“Described as the “Sistine Chapel of Small Diameter Roundwood,” the Darby Library is an inspiring example of what partners can do when they put their minds together. The Library Board worked with area architects and engineers to create a building that is not only functional, but also reflects the culture and heritage of a timber town that once employed hundreds in five sawmills, and the spirit of the many residents that contributed in ways large and small.”
Energy efficiency played a large roll in the design and construction of the Darby library. It boasts a heat pump system that keeps the 5000 square foot structure comfortable as well as good insulation and energy efficient windows. This made a net-metered solar electric system a natural. Once again the volunteers sprang into action. The Darby board contacted Dan Brandborg with SBS Solar and together they designed a system that will cover 88 % of the annual electric needs. Grants were written donations made and collected and in Feb of 2017 the system was installed and the net-meter connected.
Today the Darby Library solar electric system features 62 SolarWorld solar panels and two SolarEdge Grid tie Inverters with 10,000 watt continuous output. Using the SolarEdge Grid tie Inverter, Model SE-10,000-US the system can me monitored from anywhere.
The library continues to grow in community use, and is a beacon for energy efficiency and new technology. The library provides eleven desktop computers and five laptops for public use, a free meeting room for group use, free WiFi, and multiple book collections. Serving a population of 4,300 in a 1,376 square mile area, the library is the center for community activities.
Darby public library goes solar
Solar Myth #3 Solar Doesn’t work when it is cloudy
Photovoltaic solar panels will produce energy on cloudy days. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, consider that solar panels on a rooftop in foggy San Francisco produce nearly the same as the ones in nearby sunny Sacramento. Consider too that Germany (with a climate not that different from Vancouver Canada) leads the world in residential solar right now, and it is generally an overcast climate.
Watch as Dan and the SBS Solar Team finish installing 30 325 watt Solar World solar electric modules on a Schletter ground mount at a fixed 30 degree angle.
This system is comprised of 40 -255 watt modules to create a 10kW array. The brewery building is located next to a baseball park which includes a ball net held in place with a number of telephone poles south of the main building. Add to this a cell tower to the Southwest. All of which creates areas of shading at specific times through the solar day.
Because of this shading we opted for micro inverters as their primary advantage is a reduction in losses when portions of the array are shaded. We also mounted a portion of the array on the west facing roof as this is totally free of shading and very visible from the main street intersection. Unlike string inverters with one MPPT channel where all modules need to be of the same orientation and angle, micros give us flexibility and allow any orientation for multiple modules.
A smart TV is mounted in the main room of this local watering hole where it is easy to see just how much power the array is producing. This is a great way to show off your solar system if you have a public area.
The owner and managers of the brewery utilized every possible incentive available here in Montana. Because of their location they were able to secure the USDA 25% grant, a partial grant from NorthWestern Energy, and the low interest loan program (3.25%) from Montana DEQ.