The Hamilton Wastewater Treatment Plant has gone solar - partially. Working with a grant from Northwestern Energy, the city has installed two banks of solar panels to help cut down their energy costs. Public Works Director Donny Ramer said the panels should cut about five to seven percent of the annual power bill. He said the typical annual bill is $100,000 to run the pumps 24 hours a day and under a net metering agreement with Northwestern Energy, the bill reduction will be noticeable. The system was installed by Solar Plexis of Missoula.

The city obtained a grant to help with the purchase and installation. Shawn Fredrickson of Northwestern Energy said that Hamilton picked up a Universal System Benefits grant, which is a program available to non-profits and other public organizations. Fredrickson, who was among the group at the Hamilton plant Tuesday for a media tour, said the funds have been used by schools, libraries, churches and fire stations throughout the state.

A portion of the panel installation. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)