Three Forks Multi-Pole Solar Array written by Dianna Manetta, MREA

When Leandra Hill of Three Forks, Montana, decided to install a solar energy system on her property – a former dairy farm – she discovered that her rooftop was just not appropriate for solar due to shading by large trees. Luckily, she learned, there was an alternative: a pole-mounted solar array.

Ms. Hill’s recently-completed 15 kilowatt pole-mounted solar array is expected to provide 100% of the annual electricity use of the two houses and shop building on the property. And the system doesn’t just produce local, Montana-made solar energy, but it also supported Montana manufacturing. The array was installed by Bozeman-based business Onsite Energy, using an innovative pole mount technology designed and manufactured by MT Solar of Charlo, Montana.

Conor Darby, solar installer and co-owner of Onsite Energy, explains that MT Solar’s pole-mount technology allows installers to assemble the pole mount and solar panels at waist level and then hoist them to top upon completion. This eliminates the need for cranes or other heavy equipment, reducing the time and cost of the installation. Conor says, “Building the array at ground level, and then easily hoisting it into place, we felt that we had entered a whole new realm after installing racks and panels on ladders for the last decade.”