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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Tri-County Small Business Efficiency Program

Lewis and Clark County, Montana

Federal Funding: $305,000
Project Timeline: February 2011 – February 2014

Latest Update

Implementation of the Tri-County Small Business Efficiency Program is well underway. The County continues to work with small businesses and non-profits in the tri-county area to expand awareness and participation in the program. Between April and June 2013, the County awarded grant funds to 57 businesses that made qualifying boiler, insulation, and lighting retrofits to their facilities. All remaining grant funds have been reserved for businesses planning to complete a retrofit or in the process of completing one, and the County continues to help these businesses. In addition, the County continues to promote the Green Business Program, which provides technical assistance to businesses in the area on energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, and pollution prevention. To date, 15 businesses have been certified. Lastly, the County contracted with a website developer to design and post energy savings data online. Upcoming activities include completing the design of the website and uploading data, continuing to help businesses make qualifying energy retrofits, and conducting community outreach to promote certified green businesses.

Project Summary

Helping Small Business Owners Reduce Energy and Water Use

The Tri-County Small Business Efficiency Program is educating small business owners in Lewis and Clark, Jefferson, and Broadwater counties about strategies to reduce their energy and water use and is helping them make energy and water efficiency improvements. To implement the program, Lewis and Clark County is partnering with NorthWestern Energy to build on the utility's existing E+ Energy Appraisal for Business program. The County is also partnering with the Montana Business Assistance Connection to market the program to small businesses. Jefferson County, Broadwater County, and the City of Helena also support the project. The program provides:

  • free audits of electricity, natural gas, and water use for small businesses, and
  • financial assistance to implement the audit's energy and water efficiency recommendations.

During the electricity, natural gas, and water use audit, simple energy- and water-saving measures are implemented, such as the installation of compact fluorescent light bulbs, faucet aerators, programmable thermostats, and water heater wraps. Participating small businesses receive audit reports recommending additional measures to save them money while reducing their energy and water use. The audit report quantifies the expected energy, water, and cost savings associated with both the implemented and the suggested measures.

Lewis and Clark County also provides financial assistance to small businesses to implement the energy and water efficiency recommendations resulting from the energy audit. This assistance reduces upfront costs and removes the biggest barrier to implementing efficiency measures. The program also informs participating small businesses about NorthWestern Energy rebates available to offset the cost of improvements. In addition, the program reimburses each small business up to 85% of the remaining cost of their efficiency upgrades, to a maximum of $2,000 per business.

The program will have multiple benefits, including: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel consumption, and water use among small businesses; saving money for small business owners; and educating small business owners about the benefits of energy and water efficiency.

Community Characteristics

Population 60,081
Area 3,461 square miles
Government Type County
Community Type Rural
Median Household Income $50,245

Program Results

  Reported Results (as of June 2013) Projected Cumulative Results
Annual GHG Reductions 346 mt CO2e 800 mt CO2e
Annual Cost Savings $76,462 $655,531
Commercial Audits Completed 205 180
Retrofits Completed 93 150

Project Website

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