Below you’ll find the top solar companies in Montana as ranked by us and reviewed by verified solar customers. To learn more about what goes into our “Best Rank” score for each company, visit our How We Rank page. For our full Montana Solar Overview, keep reading:
Currently ranked 45th among all reporting states for solar output and investment, Montana does not have much to offer homeowners in terms of solar incentives or favorable solar policies. Financing options are few in the state, and utility prices are low; however, Montana does provide residents with some important benefits for making the switch to renewable energy that extend beyond the 30 percent federal tax credit.
Read on to learn more about the ins and outs of going solar in Montana.
Here's an at-a-glance description of the current benefits and drawbacks of switching to solar in Montana:
Although Montana may not be the most competitive state in the country in terms of solar energy, the savings homeowners could stand to gain are still pretty significant. The levelized cost, which refers to the total solar PV system cost divided by its lifetime output, is only 5 cents per kilowatt-hour compared to 25 cents for customers who stick with their traditional utility provider.
Purchase of a typical 8 kilowatt system in Montana can set you back upwards of $24,000, but readers should note that the average cost of solar can be much, much lower depending on system capacity, energy efficiency, and other factors. Once you account for the federal solar tax credit (30 percent of upfront system costs) and state credits, the actual cost of solar is closer to the $14,000–$18,000 range.
Residents of Big Sky Country have two financing options available to them for solar power: direct purchase and solar loans. This leaves other more cost-effective options like solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPA) off the table.
Direct purchase of a solar system in Montana is the preferred financing method for individuals with the capital to spend and who have interest in a fast return on investment. As mentioned above, an 8 kW system goes for about $24,000 in Montana. Accounting for the federal tax credit and minor state credits (which can reduce the cost by up to $1,000), the cost could actually be closer to $16,800.
The great news with direct purchase is the short, six-year payback period buyers will enjoy. That means savings will offset costs in almost no time. That leaves nearly two decades of pure savings amounting to a little more than $17,000 over 25 total years. And buyers can expect their home value to increase by about $13,000 in that same period.
The other option for going solar in Montana is the solar loan. With a solar loan, borrowers will pay zero money upfront and receive a 15-year term with a flexible interest rate depending on credit. They could also pursue a home-equity line of credit, which will allow them to borrow against their home.
In either case, borrowers will need a fairly substantial loan to cover the cost of an 8 kW system, but will have more than a quarter of that cost credited to them by the federal government, with an additional $500 to $1,000 from the state. Borrowers will experience immediate savings from day one; however, loan payments will be higher than the monthly utility bill. Thankfully, as electricity prices increase each year, the gap will close, and once the loan is paid off, solar owners will have saved about $8,500 over the next 10 years.
Despite not having a solar power rebate or SREC program in the state, Montana does provide solar enthusiasts with some incentives:
Montana is one of the few states in the nation to offer solar owners an additional tax credit at the state level. It’s not much, only $500 per individual or $1,000 per married couple. And this credit is one-time, but can be applied across up to the first four years of system operation.
Montana offers two types of tax exemptions on solar installation projects in the state:
In addition to lower-than-average electricity prices, Montana has few solar policies to note; though the state recently struck down a motion to end its statewide policy for net metering customers, a huge win for solar.
As of 2020, Montana requires all public utilities to maintain a net metering policy, which credits solar users for the excess electricity their systems produce each month; however, this policy only applies to solar PV systems under 50 kW, so large commercial solar farm projects may not qualify.
Montana also has some basic interconnection standards that apply to all solar project installations across the state; however, plugging into the Montana power grid does come with a few caveats. While all systems up to 10 kW in capacity are ensured access to the electric grid, they all must come equipped with an external power down switch, which can cost hundreds of dollars on top of the existing financial burden.
Save for a major utility solar investment in 2017, which accounts for nearly 90 percent of all solar installations in the state, residential solar adoption in Montana has been relatively low, fewer than 2,000 total installations as of 2020. At just above 60 megawatts, Montana is producing enough solar energy to power less than 9,000 homes. The state hosts only 28 solar installers and manufacturers, which equates to a little more than 300 jobs.
Interested in a solar quote? Check out the top-ranked solar companies in Montana and read reviews from verified solar customers.