Tag Archives: 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.

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 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 info@sbslink.com, fax 866-255-1303, or mail (620 Fish Hatchery Rd Hamilton MT 59840)

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)

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.

 

Missoula’s City Life Community Center soaks up the sun

Northwestern Energy grant, local donations help youth center install 72 solar panelsNorthwestern Energy grant, local donations help youth center install 72 solar panels

City Life Community Center is getting into the energy-efficiency game after landing a $50,000 grant to install 72 solar panels atop the center’s roof.

City Life director Bob Grace was joined by 10 volunteers and a crew from SBS Solar on Saturday to install the 23,400-watt solar array. Nine tons of ballast ensures the panels won’t leave the roof. The only change to the physical roof was two small holes drilled to conduit the energy into the building.  (Read the entire article at http://missoulian.com)

Solar Electric System Missoula Montana

Solar Electric (Photovoltaic) Modules and Snow in Montana

It is December in Montana.  We received our first snowfall that stayed with us.  Temperatures have dipped.  We received a call:  “Help.  It is a beautiful day outside and my inverter is in nighttime mode.”  We asked if there was snow on the modules.  Sure enough, they were covered and the modules were shut down.

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 solstice. Our sizing programs illustrate this well.  December sunlight 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 increases 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.

Use your Solar Electric generated electricity most efficiently.

Use your Solar Electric generated electricity most efficiently.  Begin by looking at the largest energy loads in our Western Montana area, Heating, Cooling, Hot water, Lighting, appliances, and other electronics.

 

Check out Consumer Reports latest How to Tame the Energy Hogs in Your Home.

The U.S. Now Has 20 GW of Installed Solar Capacity

Courtesy Solar Energy Industry Association

BOSTON, MA and WASHINGTON, DC – Applauding a record-breaking year, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today released the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Reviewreport, the definitive source of installation data, forecasting and policy analysis for the U.S. solar market. Newly installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity for year reached a record 6,201 megawatts (MW), growing 30 percent over 2013’s total. An additional 767 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) came on-line in the same period.
Solar accounted for 32 percent of the nation’s new generating capacity in 2014, beating out both wind energy and coal for the second year in a row. Only natural gas constituted a greater share of new generating capacity.
In 2014, for the first time in history, each of the three major U.S. market segments – utility, commercial and residential – installed more than a gigawatt (GW) of PV.
The U.S. utility-scale segment broke the GW mark in 2011 and has since grown by nearly 1 GW annually. In 2014, 3.9 GW of utility-scale PV projects came on-line with another 14 GW of projects currently under contract.
The commercial segment in the U.S. also first installed more than 1 GW in 2011 but has not shared the same success as the utility-scale segment. In 2014, the commercial segment installed just over 1 GW, down 6 percent from 2013. The report notes, “Many factors have contributed to this trend, ranging from tight economics to difficulty financing small commercial installations.” But GTM Research expects 2015 to be a bounce-back year for the commercial segment, highlighted by a resurgence in California.
The U.S. residential segment’s 1.2 GW in 2014 marks its first time surpassing 1 GW.. Residential continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the U.S., with 2014 marking three consecutive years of greater than 50 percent annual growth.
“Without question, the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has helped to fuel our industry’s remarkable growth. Today the U.S. solar industry has more employees than tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter combined,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “Since the ITC was passed in 2006, more than 150,000 solar jobs have been created in America, and $66 billion has been invested in solar installations nationwide. We now have 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity – enough to power 4 million U.S. homes – and we’re helping to reduce harmful carbon emissions by 20 million metric tons a year. By any measurement, the ITC has been a huge success for both our economy and environment.”
GTM Research forecasts the U.S. PV market to grow 31 percent in 2015. The utility segment is expected to account for 59 percent of the forecasted 8.1 GW of PV.
“Solar PV was a $13.4 billion market in the U.S. in 2014, up from just $3 billion in 2009,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research. “And this growth should continue throughout 2015 thanks to falling solar costs, business model innovation, an attractive political and regulatory environment and increased availability of low-cost capital.”
Additional key findings:
• The U.S. installed 6,201 MW of solar PV in 2014, up 30 percent over 2013, making 2014 the largest year ever in terms of PV installations.
• Solar provided roughly one third of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2014.
• More than one third of all cumulative operating PV capacity in the U.S. came on-line in 2014.
• By the end of 2014, 20 states eclipsed the 100 MW mark for cumulative operating solar PV installations, and California alone is home to 8.7 GW.
• For the first time ever, more than half a gigawatt of residential solar installations came on line without any state incentive in 2014.
• Growth remains driven primarily by the utility solar PV market, which installed 1.5 GW in Q4 2014, the largest quarterly total ever for any market segment.
• PV installations are forecast to reach 8.1 GW in 2015, up 59% over 2014.
• 2014 was the largest year ever for concentrating solar power, with 767 MW brought on-line. Notable project completions include the 392 MW Ivanpah project. Genesis Solar project’s second phase of 125 MW and Abengoa’s Mojave Solar (250 MW), which achieved commercial operation in December 2014.
• All solar projects completed in 2014 represent $17.8 billion in investment ($13.4 billion in PV and $4.4 billion in CSP).
• As of the end of 2014, cumulative operating PV in the U.S. totaled 18.3 GW and cumulative operating CSP totaled 1.7 GW.

Check Out this Net Zero Habitat for Humanity Home!

SBS Solar is super excited to show you the latest Habitat for Humanity of Ravalli Co home in Stevensville, Montana.  This is an all-electric home with new energy star appliances, LED lighting and a very well insulated envelope.

With a $17,000 grant from NorthWestern Energy, SBS Solar was able to install a 30 module, 7.5kWh array with a grid tie inverter and an air source heat pump. We installed this system in December and made the final tie into the grid and installed a net meter on January 2nd.

 

As of this writing 5 months later, the system has made more power than what the home used thru the building process.  We utilized electric, milk house, resistant type heaters to keep our workers warm and set the drywall mud.  We eventually installed an air source heat pump in March, after the coldest period of winter.

Now that the family has moved in we will see how well all the systems preform and the actual electric usage. Depending on this power usage, we will see if they are actually netting the big Zero at the end of the year.

It was a lot of fun, and a honor, being part of the design and building of what is possibly the first net zero home in Western Montana.

Massive Solar PV System for Bitterroot Valley Farm

This Solar PV system in the Bitterroot Valley in Western Montana utilizes two banks of sealed batteries (right side of photo) 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 left wall holds six solar controllers which regulate the sub-arrays charging, three inverters, associated switch gear. The inverters are battery based yet sell excess energy not used by the farm back to the grid.  We included a number of transfer switches to have the option of operating various buildings totally separate from the grid if wanted.

 

This is the main solar array of the ABC Farm.  It 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.