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Paul Herendeen, director of impact market development at Missoula Federal Credit Union, has recently put together a detailed brochure to help people decide whether solar panels are a good investment for them. "My hope is this would be a good start for anyone putting solar on their home," he said. The guide can be found at Missoula Federal Credit Union is partly sponsoring the Clean Energy Expo in Caras Park in Missoula on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2019.

A group of local businesses and nonprofits are teaming up to host the first-ever Clean Energy Expo in Caras Park in Missoula on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Climate Smart Missoula and the Montana Renewable Energy Association are organizing the free fair to provide opportunities to learn about solar energy, policy discussions and efforts on energy efficiency.

"The goal is to really help our community learn more about options for clean energy, from solar to energy efficiency," said Amy Cilimburg of Climate Smart Missoula. "We'll be connecting people with groups who advocate for different renewable and clean energy options and folks that are working on climate change."

Cilimburg said there will be representatives from the local Human Resource Council to talk about the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, which helps people winterize their homes and mitigate heat loss with insulation.

Ciilimburg said they'll also release the "100% Clean Electricity Options Report," which will be dedicated to a Missoula renewable energy advocate named Thomas Platt, who passed away recently after a battle with cancer.

"He put in the research behind this effort," Cilimburg said. "He was the inspiration to move it forward. There are a lot of commitments made towards renewable energy that are a bit more nebulous and vague, and this is kind of an interesting report. It's not just aspirations, there's meat to it."

The event runs from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. with a "solar-ease" workshop at noon and an appearance by Mayor John Engen at 1 p.m. along with a panel discussion with Chase Jones, the city's energy and conservation coordinator.

At 2 p.m., there will be a virtual tour of Missoula's green buildings and homes, and there will be opportunities to carve pumpkins for the Poverello Center homeless shelter. Cilimburg called it a family-friendly event.

Andrew Valainis of the Montana Renewable Energy Association said he hopes to inform the public about policy debates that will occur in the next state legislative session.

"We're always interested in letting people know what policies affect net metering and tax incentives," he said. "It can be a lot of policy and wonky jargon-filled discussion, so we hope to simplify those conversations and answer questions."

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