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FAQs

THE SOLAR BREAKDOWN

Solar photovoltaic ("PV") panels are made up of solar cells that convert light energy directly into DC electricity.  The word "photovoltaic" comes from the word "photo," meaning light, and "volt," from Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), a pioneer in the study of electricity. So "photovoltaic" literally means "light-electricity".

"On-grid" solar PV systems are connected to the electric grid, allowing you to use utility power at night or when the sun isn't shining. When your solar panels generate more electricity than you use, this electricity can flow back onto the grid if your utility has an active net-metering program. This allows your electric meter to spin backwards for a credit. 

"Off-grid," or stand-alone, solar PV systems are not connected to the electric grid, and typically rely on batteries to store the power generated by the solar system.

I CAN'T AFFORD SOLAR

The utility company is interested in one thing — their own profits. The major utilities in the area are Investor Owned Utilities or IOU’s, or more aptly, You Owe Them. They are beholden to shareholders, which means their profits come before your needs. They are constantly trying to raise your rates, very successfully, due to lobbyists looking out for their interests. Additionally, they have no competition. They are For-Profit Monopolies, plain and simple.

With solar, you can lock in your electricity costs for good. When sized appropriately, a solar system will drive down your electric bill and pay for itself over time. The idea is to replace your electric bill with a fixed cost system so that your electric bill never goes up & eventually goes away. The typical Return On Investment (ROI) on a system is 8-10 years. Plus, it increases the value of your home. If you don’t have the money to purchase a system outright, we offer $0 down loans.

WHAT SIZE SYSTEM DO I NEED? 

This will depend on the amount of energy your home uses each month and each year. To offset most of your energy use, a "typical" Montana resident would need somewhere between a 4kW to 7kW system. This will vary depending on a number of factors, including roof angle, which direction the roof faces, available space, energy use, etc. Your solar installer will know all of the ins and outs of what system you should consider, and you should be sure to ask them. Typically, a first step on an installation is a site assessment, which includes understanding all of those physical characteristics plus information about your energy use and, importantly, your energy goals. Then, we can work through what size system would work best for you.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST? 

Typical residential PV system costs range from $10,000 to $20,000, including installation. However, thanks to incentives and tax credits, you may be able to reduce the cost of your system by as much as 50%. The cost of solar PV has been dropping significantly over the years, and continues to drop. You should know that the cost of your system can vary not just on the installation size (e.g. how many kilowatts you install), but also on other factors such as what type of inverter you use, what kind of mounting system is used, etc. Be sure to ask your installer about all of these options. They can recommend what will work best for you.

THERE ARE SEVERAL OPTIONS FOR SOLAR PV SYSTEMS 

Renewable Energy Financing & Incentives Choosing to install a renewable energy system is a great way to take control of your energy costs, support local jobs, and reduce your energy footprint. There are numerous financing options and incentives available for renewable energy projects, including loans and tax credits, that can save you significant amounts of money. 

THERE ARE SEVERAL OPTIONS FOR SOLAR PV SYSTEMS 

Renewable Energy Financing & Incentives Choosing to install a renewable energy system is a great way to take control of your energy costs, support local jobs, and reduce your energy footprint. There are numerous financing options and incentives available for renewable energy projects, including loans and tax credits, that can save you significant amounts of money. 

WHAT SORT OF TAX CREDITS MIGHT APPLY TO MY RENEWABLE ENERGYINSTALLATION INSTALLATION?

Federal Energy Investment Tax Credit

Eligible technologies: solar PV, solar water, wind, geothermal, certain others.

A federal income tax credit of for the installation costs of a solar PV, solar water heating system, a wind turbine no larger than 100 kilowatts, geothermal heat pump and certain other technologies is available to qualifying individuals and businesses, with no upper dollar limit. The federal tax credit was 30%, but stepped down to 26% in 2020 and will continue to step down. In 2020, the phase-out schedule was extended two years as part of the spending bill that Congress negotiated. The ITC will remain at 26% until 2023, when it will step down to 22% for all customers. In 2024, it will expire for individuals while stepping down to 10% for businesses. Find out more about the business investment tax credit or the residential energy investment tax credit.

MONTANA ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SYSTEMS INCOME TAX CREDIT

Eligible technologies: solar PV, solar thermal, wind, hydro, geothermal, certified pellet/wood stoves

A $500 income tax credit is available to qualifying individuals living and paying taxes in Montana who have installed a new alternative energy system in their primary dwelling. If you and your spouse both pad for the system, and the cost is $1,000 or more, you may both claim $500. Eligible technologies include solar PV, solar thermal, geothermal, EPA certified low emission pellet or wood stove, wind turbine, and hydroelectric plant under 1 megawatt. For more details and the applicable tax form, click here.

*Senate Bill 399, which passed the 2021 Legislative Session, repealed the Alternative Energy Systems Tax Credit as of tax year 2022. This credit will not be available for installations that happen in 2022 or later.

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