Montana Solar Community Project

The Montana Solar Community Project (MSCP) is a partnership led by the Montana Energy Office, part of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, to expand Montana communities’ access to solar energy solutions. MSCP seeks to facilitate the development of community-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects through providing technical, planning, and financial resources to help communities develop projects. The Montana Energy Office’s partners for MSCP include:

  • Flathead Electric Cooperative
  • Missoula Electric Cooperative
  • Montana-Dakota Utilities
  • Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association
  • Montana Renewable Energy Association
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • NorthWestern Energy

MSCP is funded through a partnership agreement between the Montana Energy Office and the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. To learn more about the SunShot Initiative and its many projects, go to energy.gov/sunshot.


What is Community-Scale Solar?

Community-Scale Solar developments are any projects larger than the individual residential or small-business but smaller than utility-scale solar farms. They can take many different forms, including:

  • Installing solar on public buildings such as school buildings, libraries, and local government offices.
  • Collective organizing, purchasing, and installation projects for increasing the amount of solar PV on residential and small-business buildings, often referred to as Solarize projects.
  • Shared solar arrays, which utilize virtual net metering to allow individual residential, small-business, non-profit, and government organizations to purchase shares of the overall project in exchange for credits on their bills for their share of the project’s electricity generation.
  • Solar hosting, where an electricity provider or other entity owns the solar panels on public buildings or a group of private buildings and provides compensation to the property owner for the use of the space in the form of either bill credits or lease payments. 

Community-scale solar projects typically involve the cooperation of numerous community members and the participation of different community institutions, including the local electricity provider, local government offices and elected officials, economic development organizations, and local community organizers. MSCP is seeking to facilitate the development of these types of projects so that communities throughout Montana can have greater access to cost-effective, solar energy solutions.