We have 34 panels on our roof and we are at an elevation of nearly 7,000 ft., but we are in AZ and our location doesn't get near the amount of snow that you do. However, a few things come to mind. First, the ground mounted, and if possible passive tracking system, may be a first choice except there are a couple of drawbacks. As I'm sure you are aware, you need a fairly large clear area to keep them in sunlight and that may not be possible if you have tall pines in abundance. Also, theft is easier with a ground mounted system.
I've written an article for the Kerr-Cole Center for Sustainable Living that shows how to calculate the appropriate mounting angle for the collectors to fine-tune when you want maximum solar insolation in relation to latitude and roof pitch. There are several other factors that the article mentions when planning a system. Give me (firstname.lastname@example.org
) your email address and I'll send it to you. It is a trade off on racking cost versus wind protection but with the formulas in the article you may be able to mount the panels at quite a steep angle which will make snow removal easier and still have excellent insolation value.
Another thought is that there are heat strips that are made for keeping ice out of gutters in the winter. I talked to the company and they are not all that expensive nor use a lot of electricity. With sufficient angle of the panels and the strip mounted at the bottom of each row of collectors you may be able to have the snow slide off easier.
Reserved 4/20/10, Ocean Blue Ordered SL 9/30/10, ESVE Installed 11/22/10, Delivered March 8th, 2011.