Largest rooftop solar array in Montana now operational at Missoula jail

Jordan Hansen

The largest rooftop solar array in the state is now operational on top of the Missoula County Detention Facility.

Including the cost of purchasing the solar panels, the array — which includes 1,152 panels — will save the county approximately $400,000 over its life span, county officials said Wednesday.

Those panels have 432 kilowatts of capacity, which would be enough to power about 50 households. They are expected to provide about 20% of the detention center’s power needs. No surplus power will be transferred elsewhere. 

“This project could only happen because a whole bunch of people showed a lot of vision and creativity and willingness to solve problems,” said Missoula County Commissioner Josh Slotnick. 

The project was conceived years ago, with Slotnick hearing about the idea from fellow commissioner Dave Strohmaier, he said. Eventually others were brought in, including Missoula County’s sustainability program manager, Diana Maneta.

Maneta was also heavily involved in recent county zoning laws regarding cryptocurrency, which are believed to be the country’s first that address the environmental impact of blockchain technology.

Missoula and Missoula County have invested heavily in sustainability and clean energy — the county has a goal of 100% clean energy for the Missoula urban area

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