History: In an effort to conserve resources, utilize energy efficiently, and save taxpayer dollars, the City of Red Lodge appointed the Sustainability Board to advise on and assist with the pursuit of projects that provide overall economic and environmental improvements for city-owned assets. A year of research and evaluation has identified the City’s Police Station Building as a prime candidate for the installation of a solar array to assist with mitigating electrical costs associated with the building. See the City of Red Lodge Solar Rooftop Panel Analysis report completed in 2016.

Purpose: There are three purposes for this project:

  1. Lower energy costs for the building, saving taxpayer dollars
  2. Reduce the overall carbon footprint of Red Lodge
  3. Educate the public on the benefits of solar energy both generally and for this project.

Lower Energy Costs:  City Hall and the Police Station use about 38,000 kWh of electricity per year, which costs roughly $4,220 annually. A 28kW array is projected to offset 100% of these energy costs through solar electricity production. Note natural gas heating would not be offset.

Reduce Carbon Footprint: 

  • Red Lodge adopted an Energy Conservation Plan in 2018, with an overall goal of reducing emissions by 50% (of 2016 levels) by 2040. This project will assist the city in reaching that target.
  • Survey respondents identified “pursuing renewable energy projects” as one of the top five strategies / methods they would like the City to pursue to achieve the goals laid out in the plan.
  • The results of the City of Red Lodge Baseline Assessment concluded that the largest portion of emissions (59%) for the City come from buildings and facilities. The Police Station was identified as a prime candidate for solar arrays to assist with the reduction of these emissions and costs to the City.
  • The array is projected to reduce our emissions by 26 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually. This would be like planting 435 trees every year, or at least 11,000 trees in total over its lifetime.

Provide Education: Interpretive signage installed on site and at City Hall will provide visitors with information about solar power generally, and give specific details about the Police Station array. In addition, regular measurements of money saved, emissions reduced, and power generated can be displayed real time on the City webpage, and in the buildings, offering residents and visitors an opportunity to engage with the impact of the project in an immediate way that is easy to understand.

Cost / Benefit Analysis: Without any external funding, the project will likely cost about $91,410.00 with a payback period of 22 years. However, we intend to apply for a NorthWestern Energy USB grant that would fund up to 90% of the project. This Buy-A-Panel fundraiser will help the City meet the matching requirement and show that our community is invested in solar. When we meet our $10,800 fundraising goal, this will have a payback period of 2.5 years with the grant funding from NWE.


How You Can Help 

Buy a panel, or two, or five, or ten! Your donation will be recognized with a permanent plaque at City Hall with your name, business, or organization. Check back July 8th to fill out published order forms for:

  • $100 – 1 panel, bronze recognition
    • 50/50 split option available for groups and individuals who can each kick in $50.
  • $200 – 2 panels, silver recognition
  • $500 – 5 panels, gold recognition
  • $1,000 – 10 panels, platinum recognition

After July 8th, order forms may be submitted to PO Box 9 Red Lodge, MT 59068 or via email to energycorps@cityofredlodge.com. You may make checks payable to the City of Red Lodge, 1 S Platt Ave Red Lodge, MT 59068 or call (406) 446-1606 to pay by credit card.