Buildings and Energy

Solar Energy

Alpenglow Apartments Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System

Alpenglow SolarHomeword, a non-profit affordable housing developer, and the Whitefish Housing Authority teamed up to construct the Alpenglow Apartments, an affordable housing project, on Edgewood Drive in Whitefish. The City of Whitefish received a DEQ Community Solar grant for a Solar PV Feasibility Study for the apartments and a $1000 grant from the Whitefish Community Foundation to put toward the solar PV system. In 2020 OnSite Energy installed the 30.72 kw DC Solar PV system at a cost of about $50,000. The apartments are expected to be complete in early 2021. The solar PV system will be monitored remotely and will help offset the building's energy use.

Find an installer: Contractors with the Montana Renewable Energy Association are listed in the MREA Installer Directory.

Financing: Clearwater Credit Union solar loans and Montana Department of Environmental Quality Loan Program

Incentives:  Montana Income Tax Incentive and other state incentives and Federal Income Tax Credit

Commercial Solar Array Installed at Nelson's ACE Hardware, Highway 93 South

Nelsons Solar2Nelsons Solar1
Nelson's ACE Hardware recently installed this 30.5 kW solar array on the south roof of their store at 6480 Highway 93 South in Whitefish. The commercial installation is composed of 78 solar modules, with power from each being converted to AC on the roof using Enphase microinverters. The array is projected to produce 26% of the business's annual energy consumption. Keep your eyes open around town for other residential and commercial projects!!

SolSmart Designation

Whitefish Mayor Accepting the Solsmart Bronze Award
Mayor John Muhlfeld and Montana Renewable Energy Association Executive Director Andrew Valanis receive the SolSmart Bronze Award.

In 2018 the City of Whitefish earned a SolSmart Bronze award, in recognition of the city’s achievements in encouraging the growth of solar in our community.

SolSmart is a national program that recognizes cities, counties, and small towns for making it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar. It’s led by the Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Technologies Office. By winning this award, Whitefish joins over 200 local governments that have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.

The City created an online permitting checklist, increasing transparency for community members and solar installers. And city engineers reviewed local zoning codes and identified restrictions that intentionally or unintentionally prohibit solar PV development. Both projects were undertaken to reduce the cost to installers and pass on those savings to consumers to allow more local homes and businesses to obtain affordable, clean, and reliable electricity. Whitefish partnered with the Montana Renewable Energy Association, a Montana-based nonprofit acting as Montana’s statewide SolSmart Advisor, to achieve the designation. For more information about the SolSmart program, visit SolSmart Program

Hydroelectric Energy

Whitefish Hydroelectric Power Plant

The City's hydroelectric power plant in Haskill Basin has helped offset its energy costs by about $60,000 a year since May 2019.

Home Energy Efficiency

New and Existing Homes 

If you are building a new home, use this energy code guidance: New Home Energy Code Guide.

Home Energy Efficiency Brochure cover

To improve the efficiency of your existing home, view the City's brochure: 10 Ways to Improve Home Energy Efficiency and request an on-site energy audit from Northwestern Energy:  E+ Home Energy Audits

Green Homes Tour

In 2018 the City of Whitefish partnered with Climate Smart Glacier Country to host a Green Homes Tour. The tour took over 90 participants to three different houses built using the principles of zero-waste, energy efficiency, and alternative energy. The first was a house built by Yvonne May and Jake Christiansen and featured cross-laminated timber coupled with wood fiber insulation, triple-paned windows, and other energy efficient features. The second was built by Mark Van Everen and Bridgewater Builders, and featured a state-of-the-art heat recovery ventilation system to recover 80% of the heat used to warm the house, as well as cellulose insulation to minimize heat loss. The third was built by Richard Cohen with a focus on zero-waste living, and thus featured a composting toilet, solar thermal heating, and greywater irrigation for greenhouse plants. All three of these homes provided different examples of what it means to live green, and allowed the community to learn more about the importance of building with energy efficiency in mind. For more information about the event, see the Green Homes Tour YouTube Video.