The City of Missoula recently won an award from an organization called SolSmart for helping homeowners and businesses to add solar power to their energy systems.

Andrew Valainis, executive director of the Montana Renewable Energy Association, said his organization is proud of the city for achieving a Silver Designation from SolSmart.

“It focuses on helping communities making it easier to go solar,” said Valainis. “They do that by reducing what are called the ‘soft costs’ of going solar. The hard costs are things like panels and racking and wiring, while the soft costs are things like permitting fees, planning and zoning restrictions. It’s really a way to kind of try to remove some of the red tape and streamline the administrative processes, and help residents to make it easier and more straightforward to go solar if they want to.”

Valainis said people choose to ‘go solar’ for many different reasons.

“Some people do it for the financial reasons, they want to save money on their energy bills,” he said. “Some people do it just because it aligns with their values, they want to be more independent from an energy perspective or be more resilient from an energy perspective, and there are also numerous environmental benefits to having a clean energy source like that directly on their roof.”

The Montana Renewable Energy Association presented the Silver award on Wednesday morning at a Missoula City Council committee meeting.