Community Solar-Shares du Soleil

Use the FroniusSolar website or mobile apps to access real time as well as past energy production data. You will be fascinated to see what those clouds rolling across the sky do to your energy production.

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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.”

solar array

One-Year Anniversary

Yes, it’s been a year since we threw the breaker on the 50.2 KW Shares du Soleil Community Solar Project. 12:35 PM on October 16, 2019, to be exact! It became a daily ritual for me to walk in the office and check out the monitor on our lobby wall to see how much energy was being generated. Over the past year, we generated 67,603 kWh.
Our initial design proforma estimated 66,524 kWhs annually. This takes into account the average sun, rain, dust, snow, system losses, etc. Does everyone remember not seeing the sun in February? I think we were all battling snow that month, and the solar panels were buried in drifts. Let’s cross our fingers for the next year of successful generation.
There were 80 shares available to our members when the project launched. Each share cost $750. A few members bought more than a single share. Each share credited 845 kWhs to the member’s bill over the course of the year, i.e., approximately $78.07.
So what’s next? We certainly learned a lot over the past year that will be very helpful in the future. Personally, I felt it was a huge success and a good opportunity to partner with our members. I will start looking at Shares du Soleil’s next expansion after the first of the year, so stay tuned!

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.”

Woman with Shares du Soleil paper
A member signing up to be a solar partner.

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.