Montana Solar Panels
Pricing & Installation Data

Find out if solar panels are right for your home in Montana.

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Solar Panels in Montana

Solar Panels are sweeping the nation! Making even less sunny states like Montana a viable option for the renewable energy alternative. Price drops, competition, improved manufacturing, better efficiency, and incentives are all making solar panels more accessible to everyone.

Through large-scale projects, you can see the greater impact on capacity. The South Mills Solar site in Hardin produces 4.2 MW. Magpie Solar in Lavina produces 4.1 MW of electricity. Combined, they can power about 1,200 homes. 

Though the state ranks 40th nation-wide in solar and only 0.52% of the state’s electricity comes from solar, there is growing capacity. 

Montana solar is expected to grow 831 MW over the next 5 years and $338 million invested so far. 

Cost of Solar in Montana

The average price for a home solar panel system in Montana is $$17,010 for a 6kW system or about $2.83 per watt. Systems will vary depending on the solar installation company the types of solar panels you choose and the size of your system. When shopping for solar panels you should consider getting multiple quotes from various installers.

Average Cost
6 kW System
Average Cost
10 kW System
Estimated
Tax Credit
(10 kW System)
Average
Cost/Watt
U.S.Average$18,771$31,285$9,385.50$3.13
Montana$26,220$43,700$13,110$4.37
U.S.Average$18,771$31,285$9,385.50$3.13
Most Costly State(Michigan)$22,680$37,800$11,340$3.78
Least Costly State(Arizona)$14,640$24,400$7,320$2.44

Costs by Solar System Size in Montana

For most, the ideal solar system size is the sweet spot between price and capacity. The goal is to generate enough electricity to cover your home's demand while keeping overall costs low as possible.

I.E. Get the best bang for your buck.

System SizeSystem CostCost After Federal Tax Credit
5 kW$21,850$8,785
6 kW$26,220$10,542
7 kW$30,590$12,299
8 kW$34,960$14,056
10 kW$43,700$17,570

Pros and Cons of Solar in Montana

Like any decision it is important to consider all your benefits and risks because nothing is perfect - including solar. 

To avoid buyer's remorse, you should think about all the pros and cons associated with installing solar equipment on your home. Then weigh them against each other to decide if it makes sense for you.

Everyone has their own opinion on how to interpret and weigh the pros and cons against each other. Our goal is to present the most common pros and cons and let you make your own choice.

Montana Solar Pros

  • Long-Term Cost Savings: Reduce or eliminate electric bills
  • Grid Independence: Generate your own electricity (gain more independence with batteries)
  • Environmentally Conscious: Reduce your carbon footprint
  • Increased Asset Value: Increase home value (4.1% on average)
  • Growing Industry: solar capacity is steadily increasing indicating a growing market and interest. 
  • Net-Metering: State law requires net metering for everyone.

Montana Solar Cons

  • Roof Capability: Not viable for all roofs or homes
  • High Upfront Costs: Installation costs
  • Financial liability: unexpected factors could produce underperformance like shading from new construction, weather, or technical issues.
  • Weather by Region: Some areas are better for solar than others. Eastern Montana has more sunny exposure and days than Western Montana.
  • Lack of Incentives: besides net metering there aren’t many incentives. 

EnergyBot's Take

Although Montana doesn’t rank high in the national rating for solar, there is still a lot of potential and untapped opportunities. This isn’t just about joining the green energy movement; it’s a practical, long-term investment for homeowners.

Montana's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says that its solar potential is approximately 26% greater than the national average! Eastern Montana being the best region for solar. Even the cloudiest regions in Western Montana receive a good amount of sunlight, making solar feasible, especially in the summer months.

On the flip side, Montana has a lower electricity rate than the national average. This could result in lower dollar savings. Residents may also have to consider additional robust and efficient solutions to account for the varying weather in the state, which could result in high upfront costs. 

All in all, considering your own financial situation and roofs location is crucial in determining whether it’s a good financial investment. If your priorities are reducing your carbon footprint and becoming energy independent, then solar panels could be the right choice for you. 

If you are on the fence you can use this tool to get an accurate cost breakdown for your home based on your historical energy usage.

Leasing vs Buying Solar Panels in Montana

There are several ways you can purchase and/or finance your solar panel installation in Montana. Your goals and financial situation will dictate which option is best for you.

Cash Purchase

The most straightforward option. You pay upfront for the entire cost of the rooftop solar system. No interest, and fewer headaches, but many people are hesitant about spending several tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Solar Loan

The most common method for buying solar systems. Like many other types of large purchases, you can finance your solar system through a bank or solar loan provider.

This sounds great, and many other solar loan salespeople will leverage the low payment to justify the costs. You will likely hear something like "You pay $250 a month on your electric bill, with a solar loan you will pay $200 and have free electricity."

Do your due diligence before you sign on the dotted line. There are many horror stories of variable loan terms, ballooning interest rates, and harsh missed payment penalties.

Solar Lease

Leasing solar panels generally involves less money out of pocket upfront. But, it's important to note - you do not own your solar energy system. You essentially renting the solar system. A solar provider will install the equipment and charge you a fixed monthly fee.

Most solar lease contracts last for a couple of decades, during which time the provider will keep an eye on the system's hardware and performance. At the end of your lease, you can choose to:

  • Renew your lease agreement
  • Purchase the system
  • End your lease agreement

Solar leases can be complicated. Not all are bad, but in many cases the lease terms in not in favor of the buyer. Before you decide on a solar lease make sure to read your contract thoroughly. If you don't understand something, ask an expert.

Power Purchase Agreements

A power purchase agreement (PPA) is a financial agreement where a solar company will design and install a solar system on your home or business with little or no cost upfront. Instead of paying a monthly fee like a lease, the agreement includes a fixed price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity generated.

For example, you agree to pay $0.12 per kWh of electricity generated for the next 20 years. The solar company will install and maintain your system and sell the power back to you that you use. They may also collect payment for any additional energy they put back into the grid.

Just like a lease, you do not own the panels. When the contract is up, they will either be removed or your contract may have other terms for you to buy or renew your power purchase agreement.

Power purchase agreements can be complicated. Before you sign make sure you review the contract and if possible have an expert in power purchase agreements review the details.

Montana Solar Incentives

In Montana, alongside the 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit, you might find additional solar incentives to significantly lower the cost of your solar panel installation. 

At the time of this writing 2023, there aren’t many options to choose from. That’s not to say there won’t be more as solar continues to become more popular. Incentives can vary; some are available statewide, while others are more localized. They change all the time.

In Montana, incentives might be offered by your city, utility company, or other local entities, or rebates by the solar installers themselves. So be sure to ask!

The table below outlines the incentives currently available in Montana. However, this list isn't exhaustive. For other potential incentives, it's a good idea to check with your local utility provider. They might offer additional benefits for solar installations that aren't widely advertised.

Name State Category Type
Lincoln Electric Cooperative - Net Metering MT Regulatory Policy Net Metering
Mandatory Utility Green Power Option MT Regulatory Policy Mandatory Utility Green Power Option
Net Metering MT Regulatory Policy Net Metering
Montana Electric Coops - Net Metering MT Regulatory Policy Net Metering
Renewable Energy Systems Exemption MT Financial Incentive Property Tax Incentive
Montana Solar and Wind Easements MT Regulatory Policy Solar/Wind Access Policy
Residential Alternative Energy System Tax Credit MT Financial Incentive Personal Tax Credit
Renewable Resource Standard MT Regulatory Policy Renewables Portfolio Standard
Corporate Property Tax Reduction for New/Expanded Generating Facilities MT Financial Incentive Property Tax Incentive
Fuel Mix and Emissions Disclosure MT Regulatory Policy Generation Disclosure
Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Program MT Financial Incentive Loan Program
Alternative Energy Investment Tax Credit (Corporate) MT Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Credit
Residential Geothermal Systems Credit MT Financial Incentive Personal Tax Credit
Interconnection Standards MT Regulatory Policy Interconnection
Yellowstone Valley Electric Coop - Solar Stock Watering Units MT Financial Incentive Other Incentive
Property Tax Exemption for Ethanol Production Facilities MT Financial Incentive Property Tax Incentive
Personal Income Tax Credit for Alternative Fuel Motor Vehicle Conversion MT Financial Incentive Personal Tax Credit
Corporate Income Tax Credit for Alternative Fuel Motor Vehicle Conversion MT Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Credit
Reduction in Motor Fuel Tax on Gasohol MT Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Exemption
BEF - Renewable Energy Grant MT Financial Incentive Grant Program
NorthWestern Energy - PV Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
NorthWestern Energy - Solar Hot Water Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
NorthWestern Energy - PV Systems for Fire Stations MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Generation Facility Corporate Tax Exemptions MT Financial Incentive Property Tax Incentive
Energy Conservation Installation Credit MT Financial Incentive Personal Tax Credit
NorthWestern Energy - Custom Business Efficiency Program MT Financial Incentive Grant Program
NorthWestern Energy - Home Lighting Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
NorthWestern Energy - E+ Natural Gas Savings Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
NorthWestern Energy (Electric) - Commercial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Building Energy Code MT Regulatory Policy Building Energy Code
Flathead Electric Cooperative - Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Flathead Electric Cooperative - Commercial Incentive Programs MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Northwest Solar Cooperative - Green Tag Purchase MT Financial Incentive Performance-Based Incentive
Missoula Electric Cooperative - Residential Efficiency Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative - Residential/Commercial Efficiency Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Alternative Energy Investment Tax Credit (Personal) MT Financial Incentive Personal Tax Credit
Alternative Energy Investment Tax Credit MT Financial Incentive Industry Recruitment/Support
Property Tax Abatement for Production and Manufacturing Facilities MT Financial Incentive Industry Recruitment/Support
Black Hills Power - Commercial Energy Efficiency Programs MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Black Hills Power - Residential Customer Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Energy Efficiency Standards for State Buildings MT Regulatory Policy Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Montana-Dakota Utilities - Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Montana - Residential Energy-Efficient Appliance Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
NorthWestern Energy (Gas) - Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
NorthWestern Energy (Gas) - Commercial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance - Smart Water Heat Rebate Program MT Financial Incentive Rebate Program
Electric Vehicle Tax Credit - Corporate MT Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Credit
Electric Vehicle Tax Credit - Personal MT Financial Incentive Personal Tax Credit
Net Metering MT Regulatory Policy Net Metering
Montana Commercial PACE Financing Program MT Financial Incentive PACE Financing
Montana - National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Grant Program MT Financial Incentive Grant Program
Tax-Exempt Financing for Green Buildings, Renewable Energy & Brownfield Redevelopment US Financial Incentive Loan Program
Conservation Security Program (CSP) Production Incentive US Financial Incentive Performance-Based Incentive
Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) US Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Credit
Federal Excise Tax Exemption for Gasohol US Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Exemption
Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS) US Financial Incentive Corporate Depreciation
Energy Star Financing and Mortgages US Financial Incentive Loan Program
USDA Rural Housing Service Loans US Financial Incentive Loan Program
Residential Energy Conservation Subsidy Exclusion (Corporate) US Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Exemption
Renewable Energy Production Incentive (REPI) US Financial Incentive Performance-Based Incentive
Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC) US Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Credit
Small Business Administration Loan Programs US Financial Incentive Loan Program
Energy-Efficient Mortgages US Financial Incentive Loan Program
USDA - Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants US Financial Incentive Grant Program
Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs - Funding Opportunities US Financial Incentive Grant Program
Green Power Purchasing Goal for Federal Government US Regulatory Policy Green Power Purchasing
Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction US Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Deduction
Energy-Efficient New Homes Tax Credit for Home Builders US Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Credit
Energy-Efficient Appliance Manufacturing Tax Credit US Financial Incentive Industry Recruitment/Support
Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit US Financial Incentive Personal Tax Credit
Veterans Housing Guaranteed and Insured Loans US Financial Incentive Loan Program
Federal Appliance Standards US Regulatory Policy Appliance/Equipment Efficiency Standards
Energy Goals and Standards for Federal Agencies US Regulatory Policy Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) US Financial Incentive Loan Program
Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) US Financial Incentive Loan Program
U.S. Department of Treasury - Renewable Energy Grants US Financial Incentive Grant Program
USDA - High Energy Cost Grant Program US Financial Incentive Grant Program
USDA - Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program US Financial Incentive Loan Program
USDA - Repowering Assistance Biorefinery Program US Financial Incentive Grant Program
Title I Property Improvement Loans US Financial Incentive Loan Program
USDA - Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance (EA/REDA) Program US Financial Incentive Grant Program
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) US Financial Incentive Grant Program
Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) US Financial Incentive Grant Program
Fannie Mae Green Financing – Loan Program US Financial Incentive Loan Program
Qualified Commercial Clean Vehicle Tax Credit US Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Credit
Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Tax Credit (Corporate) US Financial Incentive Corporate Tax Credit
Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Tax Credit (Personal) US Financial Incentive Personal Tax Credit
Previously-Owned Clean Vehicle Tax Credit US Financial Incentive Personal Tax Credit

Montana Solar Companies

There are hundreds of solar companies in Montana. From solar installers to solar loan providers, and manufacturers. Each is a piece of the puzzle to help you get outfitted with solar panels.

To make things simple, EnergyBot works directly with 3 of the largest solar companies to give you a comprehensive view of the market.

The solar companies we partner with:

  • Project Solar - A nationwide provider of solar panel systems that has a non-sales-oriented approach to building your system. They build your system from their central office and send a local company to complete the solar panel installation.
  • EnergySage - The largest online solar installation network. They work with thousands of installers to help you find the perfect solar system for your home. With thousands of successful solar installations, they can give you a range of bids and pricing options.
  • Tesla - Brains behind some of the most cutting-edge technology in the automotive industry, Tesla also offers sleek and powerful solar systems and battery systems.

We believe comparing these three names in the solar industry will give you the info you need to decide if solar panels are right for you.

Before You Install Solar Panels

Just because solar is a popular discussion right now, doesn’t mean it makes sense for everyone. It is still a large and expensive decision. Installing solar has great financial and environmental benefits but it won’t feel beneficial if you run into issues. Along with studying a 20-year cost comparison for your home, read some more tips to keep in mind when mulling over your decision on your installer, system design, and financial plan.

  • What are the long-term savings and payback period for installing a solar panel system?
  • How will installing solar panels impact my home's value?
  • What is the system’s Return on Investment (ROI)?
  • Are there any specific design or aesthetic considerations for solar panel installation?
  • How do I weigh the environmental benefits against the costs of installation?
  • What are the specific terms and conditions for the installer?

Clean Energy vs Coal Country

The Coal Industry is deeply rooted into the fabric of Montana’s landscape. It is no surprise to most of us that despite national growing trends towards renewable energy, Montana is not letting go of coal. The state's historical and economic ties to coal mining are strong. The state has authorized an expansion of the coal mine feeding the plant, and NorthWestern Energy, Montana's largest power company, has increased its stake in the plant. The power plant is a major greenhouse gas emitter, yet it is central to the local economy. Local ranchers and tribal officials have long fought against coal development to protect the land and water.

Legislatively, Montana has enacted laws to bolster the fossil fuel industry and limit climate change initiatives. For example, there's resistance to a proposed methane gas plant by NorthWestern Energy near the Yellowstone River, faced with legal challenges over environmental concerns. 

On the flip side, the state possesses significant renewable energy potential, particularly in wind and solar. However, the transition to these cleaner energy sources is slowed by economic and political factors, with coal still seen as a key driver of local economies and state revenue. 

The situation in Montana mirrors a larger national and global challenge of shifting from fossil fuel reliance to sustainable energy while considering local economic impacts.

Why Trust EnergyBot

We have helped thousands of customers find electricity plans for their home or business. And we are pretty darn good at it, with over 1,000 5-Star reviews we know how to help you stay powered up.

Now using the same one-of-kind technology and platform we are helping consumers in Montana decide if solar is right for them. You will notice that sometimes our numbers make solar look less attractive. That's not by accident. We believe you should have full transparency during the solar purchasing process.

We aren't here to sell you something. We are here to help you make the best energy decision for your home or business.

Montana Solar FAQs

The cost of solar panel installation in Montana can vary significantly based on a number of factors, including the size and type of the system, the complexity of the installation, your solar installer, and the specific location. However, the average cost of solar panels in the U.S. was about $3.13 per watt, before any incentives or tax credits.

A typical residential solar system is usually around 8 kilowatts (8,000 watts), but varies based on energy use and the size of the house. The US average cost for a 6 kW system is $18,771 and the US average cost for a 10 kW system is $31,285, before incentives. The average price for a home solar panel system in Montana is $17,010 for a 6kW system or about or about $2.83 per watt.

The number of solar panels you would need depends on a variety of factors such as:

  1. Your home's energy consumption: The first step is to calculate your household's energy use. You can do this by looking at your electricity bills to see how much electricity you use in a year, usually measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The average U.S. home uses around 10,400 kWh per year, but this can vary widely based on the size of your home, the efficiency of your appliances, and your personal habits.
  2. The amount of sunlight your location receives: This can vary depending on where you live. For example, if you live in a place that has many sunny days like Arizona, you might require fewer solar panels compared to someone living in a place with less sunlight like Seattle.
  3. The efficiency of the solar panels: Not all solar panels are created equal. Some panels can convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently than others. On average, residential solar panels have an efficiency rating between 15-20%. The higher the efficiency, the fewer panels you would likely need to meet your energy needs.
  4. The size of the solar panels: Solar panels also come in different sizes. A common size for residential use is roughly 65 inches by 39 inches. Each panel typically produces around 250 to 400 watts of power, but this can vary.

To give you a rough estimate, let's say you live in a location that receives about 5 hours of peak sunlight per day, your solar panels have an efficiency of 20%, and each panel has a power rating of 300 watts. If your home uses about 10,400 kWh per year, you would divide this by 365 to get your daily energy use (about 28.5 kWh). You would then divide this by the hours of peak sunlight (5 hours), to get your required power output per hour (about 5.7 kW). If each solar panel produces 300 watts (or 0.3 kW), you would divide 5.7 kW by 0.3 to get the number of solar panels you need, which would be about 19 panels.

  • Lower Electricity Bills:
    Once your solar panels are installed, you can generate your own electricity and reduce your reliance on the grid, which can lower your monthly bills.
  • Environmental Benefits:
    Solar energy is clean and renewable, so using it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollutants.
  • Increased Home Value:
    Installing solar panels can increase the value of your home and make it more attractive to potential buyers.
  • Long-Term Savings:
    While the upfront cost of installing solar energy systems can be high, they can pay for themselves over time through lower energy bills and other savings.
  • Location:
    Homes in areas with lots of sunlight are generally better candidates for solar panels. If your home is shaded or doesn't receive much sunlight, it may not be the best choice.
  • Roof Orientation:
    Ideally, your roof should be facing south to get the most sunlight throughout the day.
  • Roof Condition:
    Your roof should be in good condition and able to support the weight of the solar panels. If your roof needs repairs or replacement, it's best to take care of that before your solar installation.

The installation process for solar panels can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the size of the system and the complexity of the installation.

Your installer should be able to give you an estimated timeline based on your specific project.

Solar panels generally require very little maintenance. However, it's a good idea to have them inspected every few years to ensure they are working properly and to clean off any debris or dirt that may have accumulated on the panels. Most solar panel installers offer maintenance services for an additional fee.

Some skilled DIYers may be able to save some solar installation costs by installing solar equipment themselves. But, any solar installation will require a foundational knowledge of wiring and electricity. There's is a lot that can go wrong, posing a potentially deadly hazard.

Before you try to DIY your system we would recommend getting a quote from a solar installer. You may find that the labor costs of your install is relatively small compared to the cost of the solar equipment itself.

There are two main types of solar panels: Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline. There are pros and cons to both. Either type can produce enough solar power for your home. We recommend getting a recommendation from a solar installer for your home. Depending on your budget, location, and other factors they can recommend the most efficient solar panels for your home. 

At the end of their lifespan, solar panels can be recycled. Many components of the panels, such as glass and metal, can be reclaimed and reused. Some companies specialize in solar panel recycling.

Western Montana - Characterized by cooler temperatures and more precipitation due to the influence of the Rocky Mountains.

  • Solar Potential: Despite having more cloudy days than eastern Montana, the region still receives a good amount of sunlight, making solar energy feasible, especially in the summer months.
  • Considerations: The winter months bring shorter days and more frequent snow, which can reduce solar panel efficiency. However, modern solar panels are quite efficient in cooler temperatures.

Central Montana - Experiences a mix of weather patterns from the west and east. It can have variable weather conditions, including fluctuations in temperature and precipitation.

  • Solar Potential: Good potential for solar energy, especially in areas that receive less rainfall and more consistent sunlight.
  • Considerations: Weather variability may require robust solar systems that can adapt to changing conditions and maintain efficiency.

Eastern Montana - Drier and experiences more extreme temperatures, both in summer and winter. This region generally has more clear days.

  • Solar Potential: Excellent solar potential due to higher average sunlight hours and less cloud cover. Ideal for large-scale solar farms and residential solar installations.
  • Considerations: Extreme temperatures in summer can sometimes reduce the efficiency of solar panels, as they operate best in cooler conditions. Adequate cooling and installation techniques can mitigate this.

Mountainous Areas - More snowfall and potentially less direct sunlight due to mountain shadows.

  • Solar Potential: Solar potential may be lower in these areas, particularly in valleys that receive less direct sunlight. However, higher altitudes can also mean more intense sunlight when it is available.
  • Considerations: Snowfall can cover panels, reducing efficiency, but snow can also reflect light and potentially increase panel performance when it's not directly covering the panels.
  • Seasonal Variations: Longer daylight hours in summer improve solar generation potential, while shorter days in winter reduce it.
  • Infrastructure Needs: Efficient solar panel systems in Montana need to be designed considering regional weather patterns, including potential for snow, temperature extremes, and varying sunlight hours.