Author Archives: Becky Brandborg

Solar Installs – Spring Time In Missoula Montana

It is spring time in Missoula Montana.  Solar electric systems are popping up with the daffodils.

Why install a solar electric system now?

  • 30% federal tax credit still available in 2019.
  • State tax credit, $500.00 per tax payer makes this a great time to invest for the long term.

Call SBS Solar today for your free solar estimate.  406-541-8410.


NorthWestern Energy Electric Rate Case

Spring is finally happening after a long winter. Solar interest is especially high as a number of wheels are spinning which are creating financial deadlines for installing a home solar system.

As you may be aware, NorthWestern Energy has proposed a rate change for future net metering solar owners.  The rate change case has been filed with the Public Service Commission and it has gained significant traction.

Bob Lake and four other climate deniers make up our PSC and we know their anti-renewable voting record and desire to shut down as many renewable projects as possible.

Northwestern has requested that any new solar system have its own set of rates which in summary add significant costs of an estimated $600 a year for the average solar homeowner.  See the attachment for the cost breakdowns from our state solar group, Montana Renewable Energy Association. As members of this group we have filed as an intervener with the PSC and hired an attorney to represent us.

Bottom line for those wanting to go solar is the ability to be grandfathered in before the PSC finalizes the rate change.  We believe this to be in the June / July time frame. This timeline may change and if we are lucky, may not pass.

Adding to the confusion is a second and separate case for large solar and wind farms. We have seen progress here possibly opening the doors for larger projects, (recent press articles term these small systems, which they are not compared to a home system.) This is dealing with a separate case and attack upon renewables and not part of the homeowner net metering rate case.

If you have been thinking about adding solar and NorthWestern is your utility, now is the time to make it happen. Give us a call or email and let’s see if we can have your system in and inspected and permitted before the grandfather deadline.


Call for your free solar estimate today.  406-541-8410

Install Solar Today – Save with 30 % Federal Tax Credit

The dream continues.  Tax time 2019.

  • You invest in you long term energy independence.
  • New Construction?
  • Planning fro Growth?
  • 30% federal tax credit still available in 2019.
  • State tax credit, $500.00 per tax payer makes this a great time to invest for the long term.

Call SBS Solar today for your free solar estimate.  406-541-8410.

St Pauls Lutheran Church in Missoula goes Solar

The SBS Solar team recently installed a 26.9 kW solar electric system for St Pauls Lutheran Church in Missoula MT.

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 us today. 406-541-8410.

The next round of proposals is due by March 31 2019. Proposal information is included in the Anywhere Library Exampleand 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


Designing Solar Electric Systems with Growth in Mind

Solar Electric Systems Missoula Montana

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 your 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. Give us a call 406-381-5643.

New Construction Solar Electric Systems

Solar Electric New ConstructionNew Construction?  Are you building a new home?  This is the perfect time to add a solar electric system to your new home.  30% federal tax credit still available in 2018 and 2019.  State tax credit, $500.00 per tax payer makes this a great time to invest for the long term.  Build the system into your plans and reap the benefits. Call SBS Solar today for your free solar estimate.  406-541-8410.

REAP Small Business Grant Deadline October 31, 2018

Solar Electric System Montana

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, 2018 and March 31, 2019;
  • Unrestricted Grants (up to $500,000): March 31, 2019;
  • 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.

Ground Mounting System with a Firm Foundation

Our ground mounts utilize galvanized steel posts which are set in concrete a minimum of four feet in the earth. Solar modules are long term, no maintenance by design so we want our mounting structure to be as well.

We are seeing some companies utilizing precast cement block to hold their solar structures.  This is a way around having a backhoe for installation and its cost.  However, any foundation built correctly, needs to be placed below the frost zone so it stays in one place.

Looking at a number of these precast units after one winter shows movement of one portion of the solar array one way and the next another direction. Frost heaving through the year has moved the entire precast block.  What will this look like after 10 years.  Not very good in our view.

We do not believe this is a place to skimp and have our own excavating equipment to keep the cost down as low as possible.