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Diana Maneta

 
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Diana Maneta

 
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Our Story

Henry Dykema, owner of Sundance Solar Systems in Red Lodge, remembers a new type of sustaining power that was produced when a group of renewable energy businesses from across Montana gathered in Butte in the fall of 2000 to discuss what could be done to increase the use of renewable energy in the state.

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MREA member business installing a solar system on a home in Missoula
MREA's solar and wind demonstration trailer
Learning about renewable energy at MREA's annual Clean Energy Fair
Bergey 10 kilowatt wind turbine near Butte
MREA member business installing an 11.5 kilowatt solar system at the Billings MET Transfer Station
MREA member business installing a geothermal heat pump system in Helena
MREA member business installing a 54 kilowatt solar system at the Montana Technology and Development Center in Missoula
MREA member business installing a 46 kilowatt solar system at a low-income senior apartment building in Billings
Montana Governor Steve Bullock chatting with MREA member Dan Kenworthy at the 2013 Clean Energy Fair
 
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“Prior to that meeting there was really no venue for collaboration among renewable energy businesses in Montana," Henry recently recalled. "We were all focused on our own projects, but we were really missing the opportunity to work together to legitimize our industry, spread the word about renewable energy and make an impact on state policy.”

The folks that gathered that day in Butte were on the front lines of renewable energy in Montana: small business owners hard at work installing solar panels and small wind turbines across the state, one house, ranch, or business at a time.

But one small business can only do so much on its own.

Out of that initial meeting, to sustain the hopeful energy that was evident in that room, the Montana Renewable Energy Association (MREA) was born: a nonprofit organization with a mission to expand the use of renewable energy in Montana, to affect public policy in favor of renewable energy, and to educate and inform the residents of Montana of the benefits and uses of renewable energy.

Over its decade of existence, MREA’s activities have included educating scores of Montanans about the benefits of renewable energy; lobbying for good renewable energy policy at the state legislature; and raising the bar on renewable energy installers by partnering with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and NorthWestern Energy, the state's largest energy utility, to develop safety standards for the industry.

In the years since MREA was founded, Montana’s renewable energy industry has changed considerably. The number of renewable energy businesses has soared to nearly 100, the cost of renewable energy systems has dropped dramatically, and public interest in renewable energy continues to increase.

But challenges remain. As Henry Dykema puts it, “The policy environment for renewable energy has become increasingly hostile and threatens to undo all of our progress. Today, it’s more important than ever that renewable energy advocates pull together and continue working to increase the use of renewable energy in Montana.”

Partners

The Montana Renewable Energy Association partners with the following Montana businesses and organizations:
National Center for Appropriate Technology
Alternative Energy Resources Organization
Montana Environmental Information Center
Northern Plains Resource Council
Renewable Northwest Project
NorthWestern Energy
Montana State University-Extension
Montana University System Energy Technician Programs
...and dozens of small renewable energy businesses and individual supporters throughout the state.

Creating a Legacy

MREA is working toward a future in which all Montana homes and businesses can take advantage of clean, unlimited, locally available energy sources such as the sun and the wind.  Small renewable energy systems like rooftop solar panels and small wind turbines offer a local solution to a global problem; only by reducing Montana's dependence on fossil fuels can we hope to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and take control of our state's energy future.

Take Action

Learn about renewable energy (and have fun!) at the Montana Clean Energy Fair, Saturday, September 20, 2014 in Missoula.  Visit our website for details about this and other ways to get involved.

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Contact Information

Diana Maneta

Montana Renewable Energy Association

P.O. Box 673

Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: (406) 214-9405

dmaneta@montanarenewables.org

www.montanarenewables.org

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