Do 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.
- 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.
SBS 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 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.
You can provide us with your utility bill a number of ways. Click Here and upload your utility bill, Email us email@example.com, fax 866-255-1303, or mail (620 Fish Hatchery Rd Hamilton MT 59840)
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:
- 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.
Solar Myth #8 Solar will get more efficient, so I should wait (I don’t want to buy the first VCR)
Fact: Solar is a mature technology, and there has never been a better time to install solar. Basic solar photovoltaic technologies have been around for more than 30 years. While efficiencies have increased and costs have decreased, the basic solar electric panel is the same solar technology used in the 1960’s and 70s. The solar industry, like other electricity-generating industries, does not evolve as rapidly as the electronics industry has. (unlike computers or cellphones which experience dramatic improvements in short periods of time). When panels become more efficient, it simply means you wouldn’t need as many, because they’re better at converting. Given stable technology profile, a 30% federal tax credit (currently sun-setting in 2019) and a 500.00 per tax payer Montana State Tax Credit, solar is more affordable than ever and makes sense right now. Once installed, the panels are solid state, with no moving parts and have a 25 year warranty.
Solar Myth #6 Solar panels require maintenance
Fact: Solar panels are solid state, have no moving parts, do not require regular maintenance and come with a 25 year warranty. Dust and debris can collect on solar modules, but most panel owners never clean the panels and instead rely on the rain to do the job for them. Generally when it comes to snow our recommended action is wait for the sunshine. 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. 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.
Solar Electric Mounting Structure
Solar Myth #4 Solar panels will cause my roof to leak, deteriorate, or collapse
Fact: Most solar panels are not attached directly to the roof itself, but rather to a mounted railing system. Solar engineers add sealants to fill in any gaps and often the mounts are surrounded by metal coverings that act as an extra barrier from the elements.
Near Darby Montana 1986
Hamilton Montana 1994
Hamilton Montana 2016
Myth #2 Solar doesn’t work in Montana
Fact: Montana is a great state for Solar. Solar electric systems have been installed and working in Montana for over thirty-plus years. Our first company Sunelco helped to make many of these systems possible. We lived off grid and used the products that we sell every day. That being said, the true game changer in Montana was net-metering system. This allows Montanans to harness the sunshine generated on our long solar days in the summer time, feed back into the utility grid and use the power during our shorter winter days. Solar irradiation levels vary across the United States, but every state receives enough sunlight to make solar a good investment. Solar panels will continue to produce a significant amount of energy even on overcast days. Germany has more solar than any other country in the world (and six times the installed capacity of the U.S.), yet Germany’s solar resource is roughly equivalent to that of Alaska. Solar can work in almost any climate, as long as panels are properly installed in an un-shaded location. 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.
SBS Solar joined Climate Smart Missoula for a winter Solstice celebration in Missoula on Wednesday December 21st. Celebrating the shortest day of the year.
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.