Solarize Sweet Grass

Solarize Sweet Grass is a campaign of the Cottonwood Resource Council. We are bringing together community members to bring more solar energy to Sweet Grass County.

Solarize Sweet Grass is a campaign of Cottonwood Resource Council. We are bringing together community members to bring more solar energy to Sweet Grass County. Solarize Sweet Grass is working to gather information and has selected an expert installer to streamline the solar process for folks interested in going solar on their home or business. 

We have already completed the first phase of our Solarize campaign, but we expect additional phases to continue in the future. If you missed this first phase, have questions, or would like to learn more about going solar, contact Cottonwood Resource Council organizer Gusty at gusty@northernplains.org.

What we've already accomplished

During the first phase of our Solarize campaign, 35 individuals signed up to receive a property assessment to determine what solar project would best suit their property and what costs could be expected.

Highly qualified solar installers Harvest Solar and OnSite Energy were carefully chosen and recommended by Cottonwood Resource Council. These installers were vetted based on best price, quality, workmanship, reliability, and past project success.

Educational Resources

In early 2024, Cottonwood Resource Council members held an informational meeting at the Carnegie Library in Big Timber alongside solar installers. You can watch that video below to learn more about Solarize Sweet Grass.

Frequently Asked Questions

Solarize is a short term local effort that brings together groups of potential solar customers through widespread outreach and education. This model helps customers access solar installation companies that are offering competitive, transparent pricing.

If you live in Cascade, Teton, Choteau, or Pondera counties and own your own roof, you are eligible to join Solarize.

A south or southwest-facing roof are the most ideal locations for a solar electric system. Shading can cause a decrease in your system’s ability to function at its maximum capacity. To avoid this, ensure trees and other obstructions, current and future, do not compromise your system. When you schedule your at-home solar assessment, your solar installer will provide specific information on your roof’s viability.​

A solar PV system generates electricity by converting sunlight into electricity that can be used in your home. This reduces the amount of electricity you need to purchase from your utility. Your utility keeps track of how much electricity you supply to the grid as well as how much you purchase, and bills you only for your net electricity consumption.

The size of a solar PV system is often described in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). 1,000 W = 1 kW. Watts are a unit of power, just like the horsepower of an engine. They express the maximum possible output of energy the system can produce at any point in time. When sunlight strikes solar PV panels, they produce electricity that is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). Kilowatt hours are the units of energy you buy from your utility and use in your home to run your appliances, lighting, and electronics. Your system will be sized based on the amount of energy you use and the amount of usable space on your roof.​

Yes, just not as much. Under an overcast sky, panels will generate less electricity than they produce on a clear, sunny day.​

Solar electric systems require very little maintenance. Rain showers will generally take care of the pollen and dust that fall on your solar panels. You may have to trim trees and maintain branches to protect your system from falling limbs, minimize shading and maximize electric production. Snow removal is not necessary or recommended unless proper precautions and tools are used to avoid personal injury or damage to the panels.

 

Without a battery backup, grid-tied solar electric systems won’t operate when the power goes out. You can add a battery backup to your system to keep the lights on during a blackout, typically these types of backup systems can range from $5,000- $15,000.​

Your solar savings depend on the size of the system you choose, your annual electrical usage, electricity rates and any financing option that you choose. With your solar assessment, you will receive information on much electricity your new system is expected to produce on an annual basis and an estimation on how much you will save on an annual basis.​ Sign up for an assessment on your home, ranch, or business to find out!

Yes. You will receive a monthly bill from your utility company as you always have, but the amount owed will differ depending on your monthly electrical usage. Depending on how your system is sized, you may accrue credits in the more productive summer months, which can be carried over and used in the less productive winter months.

The federal government provides an income tax credit equal to 30% of your system’s total installed cost, net of state incentives. This can be claimed on your tax return. To learn more, visit this link at energy.gov.

Yes.  The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has a Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Program (AERLP) which provides low interest loans (3.25%) for renewable energy projects like installing a solar PV system. You can find more information at the DEQ website here.

Studies have shown that homes with solar energy systems sell for more than homes without them. However, your property value will only increase if you own, rather than lease, your solar panel system. In most parts of the country, going solar will actually increase your property value more than a kitchen renovation.

About Cottonwood Resource Council:

Cottonwood Resource Council safeguards for future generations the high quality of life we enjoy in Sweet Grass County, clean air and water, abundant wildlife, and a heritage of cooperation among neighbors.

To do that, we:

  • Monitor existing and potential development of Sweet Grass County’s resources.
  • Organize local citizens to promote a clean and healthful environment and active participation in local issues.

Contact:

Questions about Solarize Sweet Grass? Contact Gusty at gusty@northernplains.org or (406) 248-1154.

Active Campaigns

Solarize Sweet Grass

Solarize Sweet Grass

Solarize Sweet Grass is a campaign of the Cottonwood Resource Council. We are bringing together community members to bring more solar energy to Sweet Grass County.

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