City leaders want to lower utility costs and make Bozeman a little greener by offering some form of solar program to its residents. The city wants to provide clean energy to all its residents-whether they rent or own a home.
Currently, a new community solar model has gained traction as the front-runner for how Bozeman may address solar needs moving forward. The community solar model allows customers to tap into a community-based solar system. For ‘opting in” to the solar program, customers will receive a credit on their utility bill without having to pay for expensive solar panels. Buying and installing a full solar system into a private home can cost up to $23,500.
Currently 22 other states use a similar model.
With that being said, it should be noted there are a couple other viable models that have worked very well in different places across the United States.
The first model involves putting solar panels on individual homes for no cost. The utility company then deducts energy that home produces from their overall utility bill. The company, in a sense, buys the power from the home and deducts that cost from the bill.
Another model follows a similar idea. In this model the utility company still places solar panels on the home. However, they set up a loan agreement, much like a home, for 30 years at a fixed rate. The homeowner will still receive a deduction on their bill but in this model they are also provided an opportunity to be a full owner of the solar panels (which would really cut down on costs!). The energy they produce can also be reinvested back into their loan payments.
I have written an in depth article about the last two models. If you would like to read more about them, click here.
All of the models have their own advantages and drawbacks. Whether its time, money or freedom of action, all the plans give in some areas and take in others.
Bozemanites should be appreciative of their elected officials' attempts to stay up to date with technology. With this solar story, along with city leader's recent attempts to establish a fiber optic network, its clear that one of Bozeman's goals is to keep itself technologically up to date. No matter what, having some form of solar program in place will help make Bozeman more sustainable, cheaper and keep it a wonderful place to live.