Ranch near Ovando, Montana

Solar and Suds

Posted: November 1, 2018

MEC partners with KettleHouse on K3 Solar Garden

Travis Koehn with Jordan Solar sets solar panels on top of the K3 brewery in Bonner.
Panels will sell out fast. Call today to get yours! Pictured: Travis Koehn with Jordan Solar sets solar panels on top of the K3 brewery in Bonner. The project is a partnership between MEC and KettleHouse Brewing. Photo by Jeffrey Neubauer /Neubauer Media.

It is hard to imagine a way to make our Solarshare community solar program more popular. Our first two projects sold out quickly and members seem to have an increasingly hearty appetite for more renewable options. Combine this desire for locally produced alternative energy with equally insatiable thirst for locally produced mirobrews and you have a near perfect storm.

Enter our third Solarshare array — the K3 Solar Garden atop the KettleHouse Brewery in Bonner. This unique partnership between MEC and KettleHouse is the latest in MEC owned and maintained community solar available for purchase by our members.

For those who may be new to MEC, our Solarshare program goes back to our first installation south of Missoula adjacent to our Lolo substation. Construction on the array began in the fall of 2015 and went on sale in November of the same year. By February, all 176 shares were sold out, and the list began for those interested in a second array. Fast forward to the summer of 2016 and work began on a second phase in partnership with the Frenchtown school district. The 186 panel installation, located on the roof of Frenchtown Elementary school sold out in a similar fashion.

One of the participants in the second array was KettleHouse Brewery who had recently become a member of MEC with the construction of their K3 location in Bonner. The site on which K3 is located was once home to a community garden, and the owner, Tim O’Leary wanted to do something at this space that would be a nod to the heritage of the site. Subsequent conversations with MEC sparked the idea of KettleHouse lending roof space to accommodate a third MEC Solarshare array. All that was left was the tie-in to the brewery.

Mug clubs have been an extremely popular idea for craft brewers to build communities at their tap houses and tasting rooms. The idea is simple — create a small number of mugs which can be filled free or at a discount and sell them to craft beer enthusiasts on a first come, first serve basis. The K3 Solar Garden marries the Solarshare community with the craft beer community through the launch of the Renew-A-Mug club. Members who purchase a share in the K3 Solar Garden receive a Renew-A-Mug which entitles the mug owner to one free fill per day at the K3 Taproom nestled between the brewery and the KettleHouse Amphitheater.

K3 Solarshare Members will be able to enjoy the output of the array each month when the credits from their shares appear on their bill, and enjoy a KettleHouse brew from their own mug any time they are in Bonner. It is truly a marriage of solar and suds!

Information about our Solarshare program is available on the Community Solar page.