Tag Archives: sbs-solar

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.

Selway the SBS Solar Dog Visits the Solar Electric System at the Darby Montana Library

SBS Solar Dog visits the Darby Library
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

Montana Solar Featured when Montana Governor Vetoes Anti-Solar Legislation

Montana Solar Dog says Solar Modules are Groovy

Selway the SBS Solar Dog was very happy when Montana Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed Senate Bill (SB) 7 last week.

Frank Andorka writes in PV Magazine,Sanity prevailed in the Montana’s governor’s mansion last week as Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a bill that would have effectively ended net-metering in the state. (Read all the details)

Solar Myth #1 – Busted


Solar Myth#1: Solar panels are too expensive.

Fact: Solar energy pricing is at an all time low according to reports released by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Installing a solar electric system on your home increases resale value.  A U.S. Department of Energy study  showed that buyers will pay up to $15,000 more for a home equipped with solar panels. Adding even more saving potential, government tax credits can offset the cost of a solar energy system with a  30 percent federal tax credit (currently through 2019) and in Montana a 500.00 per tax payer tax credit.

Typical Components of a Solar Electric System

The typical components of your solar electric system:

Solar PV Panels — Generate DC electricity

Inverter — Converts the DC to standard AC electricity that is compatible with the electrical grid and capable of powering electrical devices.

Mounting Structure – Roof Mounted: Probably the most common type of mounting system, roof mounting, involves the panels being attached to an existing roof using a racking system.

Utility Meter — Tracks the solar electricity that your system produces and feeds to the utility grid, thereby keeping track of your credit from the utility.

Snowed in modules?  Net Metering = No Problem

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, grid tie solar, grid tie photovoltaics, clean electricity, energy audit, pv, energy conservation, Tax incentives, small scale solar, tax credits, grants, solar panels, solar modules, solar electric systems, solar energy products, solar power installation, off grid solar, on grid solar, solar energy consulting, solar water pumping, solar equipment, commercial, industrial, It was -13 this morning.  We have snow on our solar modules.  What do we do?  Snuggle in, rent a movie, put on some hot cocoa.

Not to worry.  In Western Montana, grid-tie, net-metered homes make a majority of their solar power in the summer months.  Winter power generation is a bonus, rather than a necessity.  The days are shorter, the sun is lower and the sky is often overcast.  This does not mean that we don’t generate any power, it just means that we generate significantly less in the months around winter solstice. Our sizing programs illustrate this well.  December sunlight in Missoula Montana is summarized as 1.7 equivalent average sun hours while July data shows 7.5 average hours.  So relax.  Modules are generally set at an angle that enough snow will begin to shed, temperatures permitting.  The cells are of dark colors that promote melting and with enough consecutive sunny days your modules will be generating power once again.

Fun Facts:  Net-metered homes in Montana, energy production and usage are reset annually April 1st.  So your solar electric photovoltaic system generates power in July (running your meter backwards) and you can use that generated credit now when your modules and you are snowed in.


solar installation, solar electric system

ABC Acres 27 kW solar array – Sustainable Farm Bitterroot Valley Montana

ABC Acres is a permaculture farm in the Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana. Sustainable food production, healthy living systems, and ecological design is what they are all about.  

Their Solar PV system utilizes two banks of sealed batteries  of 48 volts and 2,400 amp hour rating. Resulting in total capacity of 4,800 amp hours. This equates to 230,400 watt hours of storage.  The main solar array of  the ABC  Acres farm is comprised of 60 each, 250 watt modules for a 15,000 watt array. Another 30 modules are located on the processing building to the West. The arrays are wired through six controllers and all feed the central battery bank.  

On Thursday (December 8 2016) morning the modules were covered in snow.  But with a little sunshine, by the end of the day the snow had sloughed off.

You can check out their wide variety of organic meats at ABC Acres.  They even offer Farm Stays.