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NorthWestern, Missoula County Public Schools, City of Missoula Team Up on Renewable Energy Education Project

Jun 28, 2017

Butte, Mont. – June 28, 2017 – NorthWestern Energy, Missoula County Public Schools and the City of Missoula have announced a collaborative solar pilot project designed to learn more about the performance of solar energy on the NorthWestern distribution system and educating the community.

The project will likely involve the installation of solar technology, possibly including energy storage, at public school locations in the Missoula area. Schools likely to take part include Hellgate, Sentinel and Big Sky high schools, along with Willard, the district’s alternative high school program.

“We value working with the communities we serve on all kinds of projects,” said NorthWestern CEO Bob Rowe. “This project is special because of the close work with a community stakeholder group, and because it is the result of work with a statewide stakeholder group that identified guiding principles for a series of community based efforts. We’re excited to continue learning about how localized resources will work on our distribution system, and involving our customers in the learning.” 

“As part of Missoula County Public Schools’ Smart Schools 2020 initiative, MCPS has worked to implement sustainability, efficiency and high-performance standards into our building design,” commented MCPS Superintendent Mark Thane. “The opportunity to partner with NorthWestern Energy and the City of Missoula in a collaborative solar energy pilot project aligns with the goals and priorities of our district and allows us to capitalize on the educational opportunities this presents for our students and community.”

The Missoula project is the latest sustainable pilot project to arise from a year-long working group that provided input and help developed priorities for NorthWestern’s sustainability initiatives. A solar pilot project came online in Bozeman late in 2016 as part of this program. An additional pilot project is planned in Helena in 2018.

The City of Missoula has played a key role in the working-group process.

“When a solar pilot project focused on schools and education rose to the top, Missoula seemed the natural fit,” said Chase Jones, City of Missoula Energy Conservation and Climate Action Coordinator. “We are excited to bring that project to MCPS, students in Missoula and the community. This project brings together the City’s efforts to conserve energy and address climate change with increased use of clean, renewable energy in our community with Missoula’s long history of valuing and investing in education and the next generation. The potential for learning and beneficial application are exciting and nearly endless.” 

Through the pilot projects, NorthWestern is working to gather information that will help it learn more about the impact of solar on our operations and the related costs. The information will also be used to analyze possible sustainable business models for adding renewable technology to its energy grid, if and as needed.

Information about the statewide stakeholder group, including copies of all presentations, is available at http://www.northwesternenergy.com/our-company/regulatory-environment/stakeholder-engagement/community-sustainable-energy-working-group.

NorthWestern Energy has made a $3 million commitment to renewable energy pilot projects. With the recent addition of 11 hydroelectric facilities to NorthWestern’s generation portfolio, 60 percent of the electricity we supply to our 365,000 Montana customers comes from water, wind or solar generation.

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About NorthWestern Energy
NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 701,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.  More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at www.northwesternenergy.com.


Missoula Public Schools Contact:
Hatton Littman
Director of Technology and Communications
406-239-9066
hlittman@mcps.k12.mt.us

NorthWestern Energy Media Contact:
Butch Larcombe
(866) 622-8081
butch.larcombe@northwestern.com

 

 

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