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    Fact Sheet: Solar Energy Use in Montana

    Montana, the fourth largest state, is full of open spaces and vast blue skies, earning its nickname "Big Sky Country." Montana is also home to some of the country's most precious natural areas, including Glacier National Park and parts of Yellowstone National Park. With its long stretches of mountains, ranches, and farmland, as well as its generous sunshine, Montana would benefit tremendously from an increased investment in solar power. The state currently offers several excellent solar incentives for those interested in taking the steps to adopt a solar energy system.
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    ontana has a small but rapidly growing number of solar installations. NorthWestern Energy, one of the state's leading utility company, has more than 500 net metering customers who are producing solar electricity and sending it back to the grid. NorthWestern also features a fantastic solar rebate program for its customers. Additionally, there are several other solar incentives for homeowners looking to buy or lease a solar energy system. Read on to decide whether or not a solar energy system is right for you.

    Grid Connected Solar Power Systems in Montana (2012)

    • Residential Solar Power Systems: 1.0 Megawatt
    • Non-Residential Solar Power Systems: 0.4 Megawatt
    • Utility: NA
    • Total: 1.4 Megawatt
    • Cumulative: 2.2 Megawatt

    Montana has great potential for much high solar energy production. In particular, Montana's abundant farmland, with its high energy needs and location in open areas, carry exciting possibilities for solar energy systems. Some of the possible solar applications for farms include water and space heating, running irrigation pumps, grain drying, greenhouse heating, and small-scale electricity production.

    Cost of Electricity in Montana

    • Electricity Price: $0.10 per kWh
    • Average Electricity Bill: $140.00
    • Average Bill after Solar: $43

    A solar installation in Montana can cut your monthly electricity bill by about two thirds. The average monthly cost for a leased solar energy system is around $39, and even with this payment, homeowners can save approximately $58 per month.

    Solar Radiation

    Montana's average solar radiation falls between 3 and 4 kilowatt per day over an area of 1 square meter (10.76 square feet). During much of the year, however, the state's average radiation is much higher, between 4 and 6 kilowatt. Annual days of sunshine in the state vary: Bozeman enjoys an average of 300 days of sun per year, more than Miami or San Diego, while Billings receives around 201.

    State Solar Incentives and Rebate Programs

    • State Solar Tax Credit: 100% Maximum Incentive: $500 per individual taxpayer; up to $1,000 per household
    • State Solar Rebate: None
    • Property Tax Exemption: 100% exempt for 10 years
    • Sales Tax Exemption: No state sales tax

    While Montana does not currently offer a statewide solar rebate program, NorthWestern Energy does offer a generous solar rebate. NorthWestern collects about $1 per month from each customer to contribute to renewable energy projects. Customers who have residential solar energy systems receive a solar panel rebate of $3,000/kilowatt up to a maximum of $6,000. Montana also features a number of lesser solar incentives, which can be found on the state's government website. Additionally, the Federal Tax Credit applies to solar installations in this state.

    Solar Installers in Montana

    Montana has no specific licensing requirements for solar installers. Solar installations are considered electrical work, and standard state-based licensing requires that the installer be a licensed electrical contractor in Montana. If a customer wishes to participate in the NorthWestern Energy Utilities solar rebate program, the solar installation must be done by a NorthWestern Energy qualified installer. Make sure your solar contractor is licensed by checking on Montana's government database of solar installers.

    Summary: Good Conditions for Solar Power Systems

    Montana would certainly benefit from further development of solar power systems, as well as the establishment of a statewide solar rebate program similar to NorthWestern's current arrangement. With big sunny skies and a great deal of potential for further growth, Montana is an exciting state right now for homeowners interested in solar power. To calculate your costs and savings please use our Solar Calculator or contact solar installers in your area.

    Solar Energy Fact Sheet: Montana, ©

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    Written by: Oliver Wulf, Editor