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The Shares du Soleil array, comprised of 132 solar panels, will provide electricity credits to project partners for the next 25 years. The 50.16 KW array will generate a projected 66,000 kWhs annually. Partner simple payback is at 10.2 years, with an annual output estimated at 832 kWs per panel or $73.85 credit per year.
“We are thrilled to add a community solar array to the Beartooth Electric service area,” said general manager Owens. “The array represents the first community solar array in the three counties we serve (Carbon, Stillwater and Sweetgrass). This is a historical moment and a project I hope other local organizations adopt in the future.”
Plans for the project began in June 2018 with two BEC member informational town halls held in Absarokee and Red Lodge, Montana. The Project Phase One kicked off in July 2018, selling out the first 60 panels by November 2018. Phase Two opened offering an additional 20 panels in October 2018. Phase Two sold out by year-end. A Request for Proposal was released in July 2019 and ultimately selected a leading, and local, renewable energy/energy efficiency company, Sundance Solar owned by Henry Dykema. “Sundance Solar is honored to have had the opportunity to work with Beartooth Electric on this project, one that is creating significant environmental benefits as well as providing cost savings for the partners,” Henry Dykema, President, Sundance Solar. “Sundance Solar will also be working with Beartooth Electric to allow public access to a web-enabled project dashboard that will provide cumulative and real-time production information that will be valuable educational information for partners, members and students.”
The project is fully funded by BEC members, one non-member, and a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP). Yellowstone Bank (non-member) and Rockin’ J, C-Store and Gas purchased panels to donate the output to Operation Round Up to fund an “energy bank” for our disadvantaged members who need assistance with their BEC Bill. Take time to reach out to Julie Lindgren at Rockin’ J and Joe Griffin at Yellowstone Bank and thank them for their caring support of our members in a new and innovative way. Yellowstone Bank is not served by BEC, but they saw an opportunity to support their customers.
In its first year, the system is expected to generate over 66,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. This will offset the annual equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of driving a car 114,112 miles or the electricity use of charging over 5,900,000 smartphones. The savings over the 25 years of the project will offset the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of driving 2.8 million miles or charging 148,781,275 smartphones.