RE-posted from the Ravalli Republic,November 12, 2015,
Dan Brandborg, Jason Goeltz, Janelle Gustafson, Brent Donnely, Heather Handeland and Mike Dunn stand in the can storage area of Bitter Root Brewing. They are listening to Deborah Frandsen read a letter from Senator Jon Tester in praise of the solar installation.
Bitter Root Brewing has two solar arrays on its roof that have saved $2,000 in energy costs since June. USDA Rural Development and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., recently recognized them for their efforts.
Jason Goeltz, general manager of Bitter Root Brewing, said the business is committed to solar energy. It has a large southern solar array, a small western array and a monitor displaying the performance of the solar panels and overall energy use to customers.
“We’re proud of it,” said Goeltz. “It’s great for our business. It has saved our business money, affording us an opportunity to take those savings and invest them in to other areas directly affecting our employees, our customers and the local economy through employee programs, equipment purchases and other areas that improve our efficiency.”
The Bitter Root Brewing solar system generates enough renewable energy to power 1.5 households per year.
Part of this solar project was paid for with an $8,670 grant from the USDA’s Renewable Energy for America program.
USDA Acting State Director Janelle Gustafson praised Bitter Root Brewing for improving the energy efficiency of the operation.
Deborah Frandsen read a letter from Tester in praise of the solar array installation.
“Renewable energy projects like this help diversify our energy portfolio and reduce the amount of carbon that is released into the air we breathe,” Tester wrote. “As a Montana farmer I know how important keeping your energy costs low is to growing your bottom line.”
Tester, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he will continue to fight to ensure USDA Rural Development is able to make important investments that strengthen Montana’s rural economy.
The solar arrays at Bitter Root Brewing were installed by Dan Brandborg, a photovoltaic specialist with SBS Solar. Brandborg has been in the solar energy industry for 30 years. He began working with clients who wanted to be off-grid and now is working with clients who are on-grid and want to generate their own power.
Brandborg said the solar system took just two weeks to install.
“It’s really straight forward anymore,” Brandborg said. “There are really just three components: solar panels, mounts and an inverter that changes the power from the panel to what the house needs or what the utility needs.”
Goeltz said there is enough room on their roof for additional solar panels, and other businesses have contacted them about starting unique businesses at the brewery location using solar power.
“It has been great for our business because it is yet another step towards sustainability, which is truly in the vein of the brewing industry,” said Goeltz. “Brewing draft beer is sustainable at its core, and to have yet another sustainable cog in this wheel of ours is truly a gift.”
The solar panel on the west-facing roof of Bitter Root Brewing at 101 Marcus Street is improving their business that has been part of Hamilton for 17 years.