Energy Tours

AERO’s annual energy tours highlight energy conservation practices and renewable energy projects that make sense for home owners, small businesses, local governments, farmers, and ranchers. See wind turbines, solar panels, and efficiency projects up close. Talk to renewable energy dealers and installers. Learn how to finance energy projects with grants, loans, and tax credits. Meet people who are excited about conservation and renewable energy.

2011 Tours

AERO’s 2011 Energy Tours were organized with the support of NorthWestern Energy, the Department of Environmental Quality, SolarPlexus, Sundance Solar Systems, the Montana Renewable Energy Association, and Carbon County Resource Council.

Townsend Public Schools Solar Installation

Townsend
Solar panels on Townsend Public School
July 14, 2011

Highlights: Our Townsend Energy Tour featured a variety of energy efficient retrofits and renewable energy systems undertaken by the Townsend School District. The school has a biomass boiler to burn wood pellets as part of the Fuels for Schools program through the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. And last year they installed a 2.4 kilowatt wind turbine as a part of the Wind for Schools Program. The tour included a grid-tied solar array and a number of cost and energy saving retrofits within the school, including upgrades in lighting and windows.


Red Lodge Greenhouse

September 8, 2011

Co-hosted by Carbon County Resource Council

Tour of greenhouses at Cafe Regis

Highlights: Our Red Lodge Energy Tour highlighted several leaders in the community. The City of Red Lodge wastewater treatment plant has installed money-saving aeration blowers for its sewage lagoons as well as a photovoltaic solar panel system funded with federal stimulus funds in the forms of grants and low-interest loans. Red Lodge Ales has also taken advantage of incentive programs to “green” their brewery, which includes solar hot water and a free-air system for cooling. Not only are they brewing beer, but also brewing biodiesel to fuel their delivery trucks. We also visited Cafe Regis and a private residence that has used passive solar design and uses water from lawn irrigation to cool the home.


Philipsburgh Municipal Hydroelectric

Philipsburg

One of Philipsburg’s municipal hydroelectric systems

September 21, 2011

Highlights: In the Flint Creek Valley we toured a mix of municipal, residential and commercial renewable energy projects. This tour featured the biomass boiler at the Philipsburg school, followed by Philipsburg’s municipal hydro-power system which generates electricity for the city. We then traveled to Hall, MT where we learned about solar shingles on a private home and solar hot water used to wash wool at Sugarloaf Wool Mill. There was a brief seminar highlighting grants, loans, tax credits and rebates that help pay for renewable energy projects and energy conservation upgrades.


Earth-Bermed Home

Great Falls
October 8, 2011
Earth-bermed home with small wind and solar systems

Highlights: We visited an earth-coupled home to learn about passive solar building techniques and saw home wind and solar renewable energy systems. We also visited MSU-Great Falls to learn about their 50KW wind turbine and how it is incorporated into the curriculum. The tour included a presentation on the Great Falls Armed Forces Reserve Center and their 58kW solar array.

2010 Tours

See wind turbines, solar panels, and efficiency projects up close. Talk to renewable energy dealers and installers. Learn how to finance energy projects with grants, loans, and tax credits. Meet people who are excited about conservation and renewable energy.

AERO’s 2010 Energy Tours were sponsored by NorthWestern Energy through the Universal System Benefits program, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, the Montana Renewable Energy Association, the Department of Environmental Quality and Refuge Sustainable Building Center.

Lewistown Energy Tour

July 28, 2010

Highlights: 10 kilowatt wind turbine, 2.4 kilowatt wind turbine, solar thermal heating system, learn about grants, loans and rebates to finance renewable energy and conservation projects.

The Lewistown Energy Tour will visit a handful of different sites using different renewable energy systems. A financing seminar and introduction to renewable energy will kick off the tour and give participants a working knowledge of renewable energy technologies and available funding incentives. The tour will start at the Calvert Hotel, which recently installed a solar water heating system and a variety of energy efficiency measures during a remodel. We will also tour a 10 kilowatt wind turbine at the C. M. Russell Wildlife Refuge offices near the airport and will visit Fergus High School, where a 2.4 kW wind turbine was recently installed as a part of Montana State University’s Wind for Schools Program.


Butte Energy Tour

September 11, 2010

Highlights: The Butte Energy Tour will begin with a brief seminar highlighting grants, loans, tax credits and rebates that help pay for renewable energy projects and energy conservation upgrades. Tour participants will then get a walk-through of the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s (NCAT) headquarters office, an historic building that has recently undergone several retrofits to improve its energy performance. The tour will go by bus to a private home that uses a photovoltaic (PV) solar array to offset nearly all of its electricity demand and then will visit the newly constructed office of an engineering firm that was built with extra attention to sustainability. The office features a passive solar design, high insulation levels, high efficiency windows and a 6 kilowatt PV array.


Bozeman Sustainability Tour

- Co-hosted with Refuge Sustainable Building Center
October 2, 2010

Highlights: Meet energy efficiency contractors and renewable energy installers, learn about loans, tax credits and rebates and take a guided bus tour of some great examples of sustainable building in Bozeman.

  • Leading by Example Find out how the City of Bozeman is saving tax-payer dollars with energy efficiency upgrades at City Hall, including virtual servers, an efficient HVAC system and a solar electric generating array on the roof.
  • Case Studies in Sustainability PowerHouse is a Bozeman based energy efficiency firm specializing in comprehensive energy use reduction strategies for homes and business. Co-founder Dennis Steinhauer LEED AP, will present case studies where efficiency measures used in conjunction with renewable energy systems have helped their clients save serious money while dramatically reducing carbon emissions.
  • Solar Heated Car Wash This downtown Bozeman car wash gets a boost from solar water heating panels. The owner and solar system installer will walk us through the details including costs and energy savings.
  • 100 Year Old House, Retrofitted for Efficiency Over the past eight years this 100 year old farm house was completely retrofitted to meet Energy Star standards for homes and to include high-quality “green” building materials. The property also includes a straightforward grid-connected solar electric system.
  • Small Steps towards Self Sufficiency Over the years, the owners of this modest home added insulation and changed out windows to increase their energy efficiency. The latest upgrade is a solar water heater to offset natural gas usage.

Fort Benton Energy Tour

October 8, 2010
Highlights: Meet renewable energy installers and energy efficiency experts, learn about loans, tax credits and rebates, find out how to cut your irrigation costs, plus tour two inspiring projects.

  • Upgrade Your Irrigation Vicki Lynn, an energy Program Specialist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology, will walk through the steps irrigators can take to improve the efficiency of their pumps and irrigation systems. Vicki will also describe how NorthWestern Energy customers can take advantage of significant financial incentives to cut the costs of upgrades.
  • City Hall Make Over Find out how Recovery Act funding is getting put to use in Fort Benton to cut utility bills at City Hall. Architect Keith Ballantyne will walk us through the efficiency upgrades including insulation, lighting improvements and new windows.
  • Montana Flour and Grains Goes Renewable Find out all the details on a recently installed 10 kW wind turbine, as well as a ground source heat pump that helps to cut the business’s heating costs.