Workshop demonstrates home solar panel installation

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Climate Smart Glacier Country, the city of Whitefish, and community partners are hosting a workshop to help citizens understand the ins and outs of installing residential solar.

The workshop will take place Wednesday, March 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Whitefish City Hall.

From working through a bid from an installer to understanding tax benefits and financing options, participants will learn about current opportunities, policy, and steps along the path to going solar.

Montana’s high solar potential partnered with a 55 percent drop in prices over the last five years has contributed to a quadrupling of statewide installed solar capacity over the last year alone. However, Montana is ranked 40th in the nation in installed solar. Residential solar is on the rise, but barriers to access remain. The residential solar landscape can seem confusing and difficult to navigate. This event aims to change that.

“We see a lot of policy discussions that cause residents to hesitate until they understand their implications,” says Andrew Valainis, executive director of the Montana Renewable Energy Association. “Communities are making it easier for residents to install solar by streamlining their permitting and planning processes. Meanwhile, the cost of solar keeps dropping. Going solar is absolutely still a good investment.”

The workshop will equip participants with the knowledge and resources to be advocates for residential solar, on their own roofs and beyond.

“In one room, we’ll have not only all the experts that can explain residential solar options and pricing, but also representatives from local solar companies and Flathead Electric Cooperative who can explain how to connect your homegrown power to the grid. Clean, affordable carbon-free energy has never been easier to add to a home,” says Steve Thompson, chairman of Climate Smart Glacier Country.

This event is free and open to the public. A meet-and-greet with local solar installers begins at 6 p.m., with the main presentation at 6:30 p.m., followed by time for questions and mingling.

Primary speakers and topics they will address are: Andrew Valainis, Montana Renewable Energy Association: Montana’s solar landscape and SolSmart Program; Bryan von Lossberg, Renewable Energy Consultant: Process of installing residential solar; and Paul Herendeen, Missoula Federal Credit Union: Financial considerations and financing options.

The event is co-hosted by Climate Smart Glacier Country, the Montana Renewable Energy Association, Citizens for a Better Flathead, and the city of Whitefish Climate Action Plan Committee, with support from the Department of Energy’s SolSmart program.

For more information, visit http://climatesmartglaciercountry.org/?event=solar-ease-workshop.

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