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Solar Meals for Seniors Demonstration Project


Thanks to NorthWestern Energy's Solar Meals for Seniors project, ten community senior citizen centers are reducing energy costs by converting the sun into electricity.

The demonstration project, implemented in 2004, selected ten facilities that serve and/or prepare senior citizen meals to receive a free solar electric system. The systems, also called photovoltaic (PV) systems, capture the sun and convert it to usable electricity, thereby reducing the facilities' energy costs and as a result, allowing more resources to go to food budgets.

Participating facilities are:

  • Alberton Senior Center
  • Augusta Senior Center
  • Belmont Senior Center ~ Butte
  • Choteau Senior Center
  • Laurel Senior Center
  • Liberty Senior Center ~ Chester
  • Meagher County Senior Center ~ White Sulphur Springs
  • Neighborhood Center ~ Helena
  • North Central Senior Facility, Havre
  • Whitehall Senior Center

The 2-kilowatt systems are expected to produce about 3,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. Any excess electricity generated by the system is fed into the utility grid through a net-metering agreement with NorthWestern Energy.

Solar electric systems are very reliable, require almost no maintenance and generate "green" electricity, which is less harmful to the environment than fossil fuels.

Each senior center also received a free energy audit to identify measures or operating procedures that could further reduce energy costs should the participating facilities choose to implement the recommendations.

"This is an important demonstration project," said John Walden of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), which administers the project. "Senior citizen meal facilities offer a critically important service to our communities. Reducing their energy costs through both the PV systems and the energy audit means that more funds are freed up to provide essential meals to seniors."

The project is funded by NorthWestern Energy's Universal Systems Benefits (USB) charge paid by the Company's electric customers.

All facilities served by NorthWestern Energy were eligible to participate.

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