Weather Wise: Solar Power

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Solar power has changed a lot in the past few years, and in this week's weather wise, we'll see how a local company is helping residents switch over and save.

The Mitchells had solar panels installed on their house in 2010, and immediately they began saving money on their power bills.

Julie Mitchell said, "The first summer, I got a power bill that was like $23 and I was so excited about that."

Although the panels can't account for the gas portion of their energy bill, it counts big for electrical.

“From June 2011 to November of 2011, we actually had no money spent on electrical power because our cells were generating more electrical energy than we were using," said Mitchell.
The Mitchell’s solar panels were installed by Solar Montana, a Helena business owned and operated by Jackson Isbell. Jackson says since the start of his company back in 2005, demand has increased every year.

Isbell stated, "I haven't done too much advertising, it's been primarily word of mouth."   

Jackson says installation takes about a week, and power isn't saved in big battery cells next to the house. Instead, it is converted on-site from DC to AC and a special meter sends that information to Northwestern Energy. This meter is special, because it can run backwards.
Mitchell said, “So when your panels are generating more power than you already use, then your meter runs backwards, and gives you a credit of power."
In the summer, credited power builds up fast, and Northwestern Energy will let you use that credit well into the winter. And the solar power meter doesn't just record energy.

"And we can also see how much money we've saved. So we are about 13 hundred dollars over 22 months, we have saved about 12,060 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere," continued Isbell.

Panels will produce power even on a cloudy day, so it’s an easy way to save. And now, you're a little more weather wise.



Story by Ellen Bacca, Beartooth NBC.
Sponsored by Collision Pro of Helena.
Copyright ©2012 Beartooth Communications Company. All Rights Reserved.

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Tagged as:

northwestern energy, Weather Wise, Julie Mitchell, Solar power, Jackson Isbell, Solar Montana

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